Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People launched

Tue 12 Jul 2022

On 1 July 2022, the Government announced the launch of Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People.

three people sitting at a desk discussing, one person in a wheelchair

Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People launched

Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni and Minister for Disability Issues Poto Williams announced the new ministry, including two of the new ministry’s official names: Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People. The New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) name will be added in the future. The new Ministry will be the first government department to have a name with all three languages.

The Ministry will lead and coordinate disability policy across government, including improving outcomes for disabled people in areas such as employment, education, health and wellbeing.

The Government set up Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People to:

  • "lead a true partnership between the disability community, Māori and Government, and
  • help transform the disability system in line with the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach."

The Ministry of Social Development provides additional information about creating the new ministry noting:

"The new Ministry will take on most functions currently delivered by the Disability Directorate (DSD) in the Ministry of Health (MoH), as well as taking on new responsibilities.

The ambition for the new Ministry is aspirational. To truly transform the way government serves disabled people, tāngata whaikaha Māori, families and whānau, the Government decided to look beyond disability supports to examine and strengthen the cross-government disability system.

The new Ministry will have a range of functions that will expand in the future as Disability System Transformation progresses.

All government agencies will continue to have responsibility to disabled people, for example the health system continues to have responsibility for the health outcomes of disabled people."

The Chief Executive of Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People (appointed by Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission) will have responsibility over 3 business groups or units:

  • Policy, strategy and partnerships
  • Performance and governance
  • Operational design and delivery.

For more information about these 3 groups, see the new website for Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People.

Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission announced there is a delay in finalising the permanent appointment to the new Ministry's Chief Executive role due to the personal circumstances of the preferred candidate, who is a disabled person. Geraldine Woods has been appointed to the position of Acting Chief Executive, Ministry of Disabled People. She is currently Co-Chair of the Ministry for Disabled People Establishment Governance Group.

In launching the new Ministry, Minister Williams said:

“In the spirit of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’, the new Ministry will start the ball rolling with ensuring the Ministry’s culture and values are mana-enhancing, the governance and partnership arrangements are meaningful, and the mechanisms that will give effect to disabled peoples voices are enduring."

Establishment Governance Group Co-chair Gerri Pomeroy said:

“The new Ministry presents a unique opportunity, because its role is to both listen to and empower the voices of all disabled people in disability policy across government – and to deliver services.

“This means that as well as transforming the disability support system, the Ministry has mandate to effect change for disabled people in areas such as education, employment and wellbeing."

The Office for Disability Issues will move from the Ministry of Social Development to the new Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People.

The new ministry is part of the Government's work programme on Disability System Transformation. To get involved with this work, see the Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People website or AmplifyU.

See responses from advocates to the new ministry in the related media below.

Related news

The Ministry of Justice has published results from the 4th cycle of the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey (NZCVS). The survey found that disabled adults have an increased risk of sexual assault or intimate partner violence in their lifetime, especially when controlling for age. Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero has called for action saying:

"We need a twin track approach that ensures all services understand and respond to violence experienced by disabled people, as well as a bespoke solution as set out in Te Aorerekura: National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence. It is important future funding is geared towards disabled people.”

She also said:

“These statistics demonstrate the critical need for dedicated prevention and support strategies designed with disabled people and the importance of the community-led approach. We will continue to work with the community and the Joint Venture on Family Violence and Sexual Violence to advance this work.”

The 7th report from the Family Violence Death Review Committee considered themes related to family violence in the context of a disability within the family. The report identifies where systems, including service providers such as lawyers and healthcare providers, could improve their understanding, awareness and response to the risks for disabled people. Representatives from the disability community shared reflections about the 7th report in video recording (a copy of the video transcript is available).

The Royal Commission has opened a public hearing in Auckland focusing on state institutions which provided care for disabled, deaf and people who suffered mental distress between 1950 and 1999. The Inquiry into Abuse in Care says abuse in state care of disabled, deaf and people who suffered mental distress was overt and systemic. The hearing will examine the use of control and restraint in disability and mental health care. It will also look at the adequacy and availability of complaints procedures and impacts of long-term institutionalisation on survivors and their whānau. 

Oranga Tamariki has commissioned a literature review focused on identifying good practice for disabled tamariki and rangatahi in out-of-home care (OOHC). Drawing on information from Aotearoa and overseas, the literature review centres Te Ao Māori, rights based, and social models of disability and responds to the Oranga Tamariki goals of improving outcomes for disabled tamariki who may require a care and protection placement. This includes developing new pathways and standards for placements and better supporting whānau to remain caring for their tamariki and rangatahi. 

Te Puna Aonui (formerly the Joint Venture) noted in their April 2022 e-update that they are currently engaging with communities, including the disability community, to inform how they will develop enduring relationships with key groups in the family violence and sexual violence system. You can share your ideas by emailing Te Puna Aonui at familyviolenceandsexualviolence@justice.govt.nz.

Related media

One year on, fears legislation will limit Disability Ministry, One News, 02.07.2023

Accessibility bill passes first reading in House but disability advocates keen to toss it and start again, Stuff, 02.08.2022

Further moves to improve the lives of disabled people, Beehive media release, 02.08.2022

'Listen to disabled people': Minister Carmel Sepuloni to new Disability Issues Minister Poto Williams, Stuff, 09.07.2022

New Ministry for Disabled has work cut out, Tagata Pasifika, 09.07.2022

Government won't enforce accessibility, despite promising legislation to 'make NZ more accessible', Stuff, 07.07.2022

Cultural competency needed in disabled ministry, Waatea News, 06.07.2022

Disabled ministry ready for action, Waatea News, 05.07.2022

Welcome Whaikaha: New disability ministry launches amid scepticism and hope, The Spinoff, 04.07.2022

Welcome, Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People. Still, challenges remain, RNZ, 04.07.2022

Ministry of Disabled People a chance to finally prioritise disability rights, Stuff, 02.07.2022

‘Urgent action’ needed to prevent violence against disabled people, Stuff, 01.07.2022

Ministry of Disabled People launches today, RNZ, 01.07.2022

Hopes high but expectations realistic as Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People launches, Stuff, 01.07.2022

New Ministry of Disabled People 'decades' in the making, PMN News, 01.07.2022

The Front Page: Ministry for Disabled People faces tough road to achieve its objectives, NZ Herald, 01.07.2022

Enabling Good Lives disability support rollout costs unclear - minister, RNZ, 29.06.2022

Explainer: How the government asked for social welfare advice, got it, ignored it, and the impact on people with disabilities, Stuff, 17.06.2022

Budget 2022: People with disabilities excluded in funding to prevent family and sexual violence, Stuff, 20.05.2022

Budget 2022: Government to 'transform' disability support with $943m injection, Stuff, 19.05.2022

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