New ministry announced as part of disability system transformation
Mon 15 Nov 2021
The Government has announced a new ministry along with a number of initiatives to improve policies, systems and services for disabled people.
The Government announced a number of initiatives, including:
- establishing a Ministry for Disabled People (the name of the new ministry has not been determined)
- implementing the Enabling Good Lives approach to Disability Support Services nationally
- introducing new legislation on accessibility
- establishing a new Accessibility Governance Board.
In the announcement, Health Minister Andrew Little said “The disabled community told us that disability issues are not just health issues. We’ve heard and responded to their desire to lift disability support out of the health system, which is why we’re establishing a new Ministry for Disabled People to deliver support for all disabled people.”
The new Ministry for Disabled People will be hosted by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).
The media release states "The Ministry will:
- Drive better outcomes for all disabled people
- Lead and coordinate cross-government strategic disability policy
- Work to deliver and transform disability support services, and;
- Progress work on the broader transformation of the wider disability system."
In her speech, Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni said the new ministry "...has yet to be officially named but for now we will call [it] - The Ministry for Disabled People."
The Enabling Good Lives approach was developed by an independent working group of people with disabilities, their families and whānau, advocates and allies. It was designed to help support transformative change to Disability Support. The model has been trialled with Disability Support Services in Christchurch, the Waikato, and mid-central, which will now be rolled out nationally and according to MSD, the Government "...has an ambition for transition broader than services relating to disability issues."
The Government also plans to introduce The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill. According to MSD, this legislation "...will include a suite of measures like methodologies for addressing accessibility barriers, monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements, expectations for engaging with and listening to disabled people, as well as the purpose and principles for the accessibility framework."
When making the announcement Minister Sepuloni said “The disabled community’s voices will be embedded at all levels of decision-making, from the formation and running of the Ministry, to the development of accessibility legislation.”
Alongside the disability system reform and to support the legislation, the Government will establish an independent Accessibility Governance Board. The Board will ensure people with disabilities continue to be involved in decision making at the highest level possible.
Minister Sepuloni's speech outlined next steps saying:
"In the coming weeks, an Establishment Unit for Disability System Transformation will be established to stand up the new Ministry.
They’ll undertake a work programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, working through the elements of what the new Ministry will look like, and the ongoing transformation of disability support services.
Over the next few months, targeted engagement and consultation will take place with the disabled community and sector, whānau, Māori, iwi leaders and Pacific.
A key focus will not only be about locking down the detail of these changes but also ensuring that disabled people are not worse off during the transition period.
The Unit will facilitate important conversations on key policy aspects such as the name of the new Ministry and future transformation opportunities once the new Ministry is established.
MSD will also work alongside the disabled community on the name and make-up of the Accessibility Governance Board, and how we can embed Te Tiriti o Waitangi and reflect Te Ao Māori across all elements of accessibility and the system.
Having the offer of support extended to us by National Iwi Leaders Chairs and the Māori Health Authority gives me confidence that we can do this and do this right."
Minister Sepuloni will report back to Cabinet on progress early in 2022.
For more information see:
- Disability System Transformation: establishing a Ministry for Disabled People and national implementation of the Enabling Good Lives approach - Cabinet paper (available in different formats)
- MSD's Work Programmes on Accessibility, the Disability System Transformation and the Lead programme of work (to support leaders to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for people with disabilities)
- the recording of the live steam Announcement on Disability System Transformation and Accessibility from Attitude.
Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero welcomed the announcement saying:
"Disabled peoples’ lives will be profoundly affected by the Government’s recent announcement about a new Ministry for Disabled People. I welcome these announcements as a potential platform for positive change. And change is certainly needed to create genuine transformation for disabled people in Aotearoa New Zealand. Transformation will rest on ensuring true partnership with Māori and leadership by disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori."
"It’s pleasing to see an explicit commitment to working closely with the disabled community to establish the Ministry. This is an aspect I will be closely monitoring. This Ministry won’t succeed without disabled peoples’ leadership - and disabled people as employees and decision-makers during the transition and in its on-going development."
See the related media below for responses from disability advocates and organisations.
A new report proposes a legal framework to make New Zealand accessible and remove barriers that create disabling experiences. The report, Making New Zealand Accessible: A Design for Effective Accessibility Legislation (2021), sets out a legislative framework that includes an Act, a regulator, a tribunal, accessibility standards, and a way to notify the regulator of barriers. The framework is designed to meet New Zealand’s obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.