Botany and Ormiston Times
Howick and Pakuranga Times : Howick and Pakuranga Times, Mon, January 14
www.times.co.nz Howick and Pakuranga Times, Monday, January 14, 2013 --- 3 120286 By REBECCA GARDINER BATTLING for parents of chil- dren with autism has earned a dedicated lobbyist an acco- lade from the Queen. Wendy Duff was named a Mem- ber of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to people with autism in the New Year Honours list. The Pakuranga resident says the acknowledgment was “a complete and utter surprise” and at frst she wasn’t sure if she’d accept it. “There are a lot of people who do things for autism and I don’t do it for recognition,” she told the Times. “It’s been absolutely amaz- ing and I’ve had a tremendous response. I spent the whole week- end on the phone and with emails and texts.” At age two, Mrs Duff’s son Elli- ott was diagnosed with autism, a developmental disability that affects social and communication skills. For 16 years, his mum has done her utmost to gain better support and services for parents, including respite, crisis help and residential care. “I’ve fought really hard to get respite increased from the years of 17 to 20. Elliott was supposed to leave at 17, but autism doesn’t just disappear when you’re 17.” Despite having been through her own health issues, including a liver transplant, the MNZM recipient’s dedication to families has been unwavering. She was on the board of Autism NZ from 2000 to 2012, serving as president for seven years, and has been a committee member and treasurer of the organisation’s Auckland branch since 1996. She’s been involved in numer- ous projects, including setting up an educational facility for autistic children and liaising with the UK’s National Autism Society to deliver a programme to Kiwi parents with newly-diagnosed children. “A lot of the things Autism NZ did Elliott had grown too big for,” says Mrs Duff. “I stayed to help the new fami- lies coming through have more services than we had. “I also realised that to know what’s going on, you’ve got to be in there. The best thing a parent can do is meet other parents of chil- dren with the condition.” Passion for advocacy stemmed from a need to keep informed of policy changes that could affect her family and others. “A large bone of contention is there aren’t enough trained car- egivers around. Respite has gone on for many years and it has cost the Government a lot of money. “They’re trying to get rid of respite homes because bricks and mortar cost money and like any government department, they’re trying to save money.” Mrs Duff, an advisor for the implementation of the 2008 autism spectrum disorder guidelines, is working on a residential project for people with autism and is part of a group looking at helping fami- lies in crisis. Following the announcement of the New Year Honours, Minister for Disability Issues Tariana Turia described those recognised for assisting people with disabilities as “true champions”. It’s a term Mrs Duff, a parent representative on the Ministry of Health’s Disability Services Con- sumer Consortium, isn’t comfort- able with. “I’ve just done what I needed to do,” she smiles. “When you have a child with special needs, you need to do something to provide for them the best quality of life you can.” Looking ahead, she’ll continue to “fght the fght” for parents cop- ing with disappearing funding and shifting goalposts. “As the numbers increase, there’s still a lot to be fought for. For adults that have higher needs, there still needs to be residential places. “There needs to be a place for children and young adults to go. Somebody has got to front up the money for that. Somebody has to take responsibility.” HELPING OTHERS: Wendy Duff, of Pakuranga, has been given a New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to people with autism. Times photo Wayne Martin Fighting the good fight Beach water tested safe By MARIANNE KELLY LATEST seawater quality monitoring shows that all the major beaches in the south-east are safe to swim in. In particular, Kawakawa Bay, which has been closed to swimming for a decade, is once more back on the “safe” list, accord- ing to Auckland Council’s Safeswim mon- itoring results. Sunkist Bay Beachlands, Omana and Maraetai beaches are not routinely checked because they have a history of excellent water quality and, the council says, present a low risk to public health. Results taken on January 2 show that Big Bucklands, Cockle Bay, Eastern, How- ick, Mellons Bay and Umupuia/Duders beaches and Kawakawa Bay are safe for swimming with a minus 10 enterococci count, a testing system used for marine environments. Mayor Len Brown reopened Kawakawa Bay last November after a $29 million wastewater plant was commissioned in September 2011. An eight-week sampling programme ran through the 2011/2012 summer at fve sites in the bay and found the water qual- ity safe for swimming. Household septic tanks, which were creating a build-up in the water table, causing an overfow into streams and con- tamination of the bay’s water, have been decommissioned. However, the council recommends that people avoid swimming at all beaches for 48 hours after heavy rain and in high risk areas, such as stormwater outfalls and stream mouths. Events most likely to affect beach water quality include overfows of sewage from the wastewater network and signifcant pollution of the stormwater system. When sewage overfows have an impact on recreational beaches, the council takes additional water samples. Pollution of beach water can be report- ■ ed to Auckland Council’s environmental hotline, phone 377-3107.
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