From Behind Closed Doors

From Behind Closed Doors - Olive Webb

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"A year or so before I had been asked by a senior space scientist why 'someone as clever as me would want to be concerned with the lowest one percent of humanity”’… The answer to this question sums up Olive’s life’s work.

From an early age she saw the plight of ‘them’,the people whose disabilities set them apart. They were bullied, victimized, patronised or just neglected. Many facilities for ‘them’ were buried in the far reaches of an institution. ‘The further from the front door you were, the less attention and care you received.’

So, she became determined to do something about it. Olive Webb started work at the old Sunnyside Hospital at the end of 1969. Conditions there were terrible. From that time until now she has worked with people who have intellectual disabilities and their support people in all the places where they have lived – with their families, in the large institutions and in community homes.

But Olive is clear, ‘the journey is far from over’. Miserly funding and discriminatory provision of basic services and supports continue to dog the sector and ensures that people who are disabled by intellectual disability, and any additional conditions, are still only variously successful in what they do.

From Behind Closed Doors chronicles Olive’s career with both anecdotal and evidence-based data. It traverses an important time in the history of disability in New Zealand and demonstrates that until governments and the health sector truly recognize the rights of all people, there will always be a ‘them’ class.



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