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Local Area Coordination Launch - Tauranga

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health
23 August 2011


Local Area Coordination Launch - Tauranga

Good afternoon and welcome to launch of a New Approach for Supporting People with Disabilities through Local Area Coordination.

This is a very significant step in improving services for people with disabilities, and fulfils an election commitment made by the National Party in 2008.

This new approach is about supporting people to take control of their lives with the freedom to choose how they live. It’s about giving people more say about how they spend the resources the taxpayers make available to assist them and their families.

Western Australia has taken up this new approach.

I was told about an intellectually disabled woman over there who was living in a group home. But she really wanted to move out and live on her own, and bring up her young daughter herself. Her family were reluctant.

Local Area Coordinators worked with the young woman to find a flat of her own. They also helped her get a part-time job helping out at the local community centre. And they stayed in close contact with her family. The family came around to the idea once they saw how successfully she was managing her new independent life bringing up her daughter.

This is something that many disabled people and their families have sought for a long time.

We want carers, supporters and providers to walk alongside disabled people.

Stepping back to let them make their own decisions about the services they want and the lives they lead.

Stepping forward to support them to take a greater part in the communities they live in.

For instance, another story from Australia – John has a physical disability and lives with his parents in a large regional city. His LAC was asked by John’s parents to explore recreational options for him. The LAC noted that John had very limited opportunities to be involved in his community. John loved taking photos. The LAC suggested to him that he knew a friend, Tim, who also liked photography and that he would approach him to seek his support in teaching John how to use his camera to its full capacity. The two were introduced and struck up a friendship and Tim regularly called to see John and introduced him to the local photography club. John made more friends with members of the club.

Over time Tim and John spent regular time together exploring the community, taking photos of the environment, people and places. Recently John was asked by a local photo club member to put on an exhibition of his work. The exhibition was well attended and John received very positive feedback on his photos. One visitor to the exhibition was a community member who was writing a book on the community and asked John if some of his photos could be used in the book? John’s photos were published and this brought a series of enquiries from local newspapers and other publications. John has become a recognised and active member of his community. The LAC does not see John very much now as he knew that he wasn’t required as John now has a community, friends and connections.

The Bay of Plenty region has a history of driving innovation in the disability sector.

That history is one of the reasons that this region was selected for demonstration of the New Approach for Supporting Disabled People...built around Local Area Coordination.

The first Local Area Coordinators are being appointed in Western Bay of Plenty.

Recognising people

There are a wide range of people I would like to acknowledge today without whom this launch would not have taken place.

First, and foremost, I would like to recognise the work of the many, many disabled people and their families who have sought these changes over a long period of time.

Your positive feedback and ongoing support is critical to making these changes.

Thank you to the team from the Ministry and from the BOP DHB.

Ultimately, these changes are about supporting people with disabilities to live a more rewarding life.

The Social Services Select Committee in 2008 worked hard to get cross party support for its “Inquiry into the Quality of Care and Service Provision for People with Disabilities”.

I wish to emphasise the significant role my colleague, Dr Paul Hutchison, played in establishing the Select Committee’s Inquiry and producing its report.

The Select Committee recommended the Government move in this direction.

New Approach and the local Demonstration

The New Approach aims to give people with disabilities more control over which supports they choose in order to lead the lives they want. Right now, people with disabilities are often assessed and presented with a set package of personal and home support for a set number of hours – take it or leave it.

But that’s about to change here in the Western BOP.

A Local Area Coordinator will work with a person with disabilities to identify family and community resources that can help that person live an ordinary life. The Local Area Coordinator can then work with the person to determine how best to use an individual budget of public money to supplement this family and community support.

With an individual budget the person with disabilities can customise a package of services to suit themselves.

They'll have a better idea of the resources available to support themselves or their family member. The control will sit with the person not the system. And they'll have the right to choose new options.

This might include respite, supported living, and carer support arrangements.

There'll be clearer rules around what that funding is for and how it can be spent.

We've picked up this policy of Local Area Coordination from a couple of states in Australia. People rate Local Area Coordination very highly in Western Australia and Queensland.

These Local Area Coordinators will be important.

They support people with disabilities by using their wide local knowledge and networks – in schools, community centres, recreation centres, sports clubs, health centres, and marae – to connect disabled people to those communities.

The degree of interest in the coordinator roles was so high that the Ministry of Health received 73 applications for four places. The successful applicants will be announced shortly.


The changes heralded in the new model have been sought by disabled people and their families for a long time. We are currently working on how we can extend this support and choice to people supported in residential services. This could allow people with relatively high needs currently living in residential services to choose to live in a home they rent or own.

Interestingly international evidence suggests that helping these people to live in the community in more everyday ways results in generally improved outcomes for disabled people… And at no higher cost on average than more traditional models of residential care.

Congratulations to all those involved here today.


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