NEWS & UPDATES
Government announces transformative changes for disabled people
01 Nov 2021
A personal message from Minister Sepuloni and Minister Little – Oct 29, 2021
Tēnā koutou katoa,
It was a pleasure for both of us, to today announce changes to the Disability System that will be transformational, and achieve lasting change.
As someone with a deep investment in these changes, we wanted to reach out to you directly and acknowledge the importance of this moment.
If you didn’t join in on the online session today (Oct 29, 2021), we announced that we will be:
– Establishing a Ministry for Disabled People to lead ongoing transformation of the broader disability system across government.
– Implementing the Enabling Good Lives approach to Disability Services on a national scale.
– Introducing the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill – new stand-alone legislation that will progressively make Aotearoa more accessible.
– Establishing a new Accessibility Governance Board.
These are once in a lifetime changes, and since work on disability system transformation has been ongoing for more than a decade, many of you will be sighing in relief that the changes are finally about to be made.
The Government is delivering on its promise to build a strong disability system, one that has long needed fundamental reform.
None of this has been possible without the commitment and the passion of the disabled community itself.
We were challenged to be aspirational. We heard and responded to the disabled community’s desire for meaningful change and working hard alongside the community to meet that challenge.
The new Ministry for Disabled People is a significant step in this direction. It will deliver support and drive better outcomes for all disabled people, embedding a ‘whole-of-life’, whole-of-family/whānau approach to disability.
Historically, disability support issues have been treated solely as health issues. They are not. Disability issues and opportunities span across social and economic areas and for the 24% of New Zealanders who identify as having a disability, it is important that we acknowledge this.
Once established, the Ministry will be a dedicated and autonomous agency, which will:
– Drive better outcomes for all disabled people,
– Lead cross-government strategic disability policy,
– Deliver and transform Disability Support Services, and
– Progress work on Disability System Transformation.
The new Ministry will provide leadership across Government and the public service to ensure we can deliver on these expectations. It also underlines our Government’s commitment to ensuring change is lasting and future-focused.
Underpinning our Government’s engagement and work with the disabled community has been the Enabling Good Lives vision that all disabled people and their whānau have greater choice and control over their supports and lives.
EGL is an approach and system that works, as we’ve seen with the pilot projects for the transformation of Disability Support Services in Christchurch, Waikato and Mid Central regions.
We believe these changes send a very clear signal that there needs to be an ongoing commitment over successive governments in order to sustain better outcomes for disabled people.
It strikes the right balance between ensuring the right organisational arrangements are in place to champion change across the system, while also ensuring we’re building on what works through the national rollout of the Enabling Good Lives approach.
We know, however, that transformation will take time, and take a fundamental re-think of how the disability system can better support the goals and ambitions of disabled people.
This involves moving from a model focused on deficits to one that is strengths-based. It requires looking at the full range of mechanisms across the broader government system, examining how they can be improved and harmonised to better support disabled people.
The Government is also accelerating efforts to make Aotearoa New Zealand more accessible by introducing a new accessibility framework to accelerate the identification and removal of systemic and complex accessibility barriers, backed by legislation and a new Accessibility Governance Board.
The disabled community’s voices will be embedded at all levels of decision-making, from the formation and running of the Ministry to the implementation of accessibility legislation.
For a start, while currently we are referring to a ‘Ministry for Disabled People’, we will collaborate with the disability community to identify an appropriate name.
Given the scale and scope of the new agency, a dedicated Establishment Unit is being set up to support its establishment, and the transition of some MOH and functions.
The Unit will build on insights from the establishment of new Ministries, such as Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. A key focus will be ensuring disabled people continue to receive support over the transition.
The changes to our disability system support the wider health system reform work that is currently underway and the creation of Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority. This will deliver a more equitable, accessible, and cohesive system, centred on people, that will improve the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.
The Ministry of Health will continue to have responsibility for improving health outcomes for all New Zealanders, including disabled people.
The future health system, including Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority, will need to work closely with the new Ministry for Disabled People, tāngata whaikaha Māori, disabled people and whānau to achieve this.
Together, we will make healthcare accessible for all New Zealanders. We will support people in getting the services they need, where and when they need it, and be well placed to meet future challenges.
Today marks a new chapter in the partnership between the disability community and Government, building on our common vision to transform New Zealand into a non-disabling society.
Hon Carmel Sepuloni
Minister for Disability Issues
Hon Andrew Little
Minister of Health
To read more about these changes, or to access information in alternative accessible formats, please click here.