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Government Delivers Transformative Changes For Disabled People

Hon Carmel Sepuloni

Minister for Disability Issues

Hon Andrew Little
Minister of Health

· Establishment of a Ministry for Disabled People

· Implementing the Enabling Good Lives approach to Disability Support Services on a national scale

· Introduction of The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill – new stand-alone legislation that will make Aotearoa more accessible.

· Establishment of a new Accessibility Governance Board

“Today the Government is delivering on its promise to reform the disability system,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni has announced.

“The current disability system is broken and puts too many barriers in place for disabled people and whānau. This is why we are establishing a new Ministry for Disabled People as the heart of this change. It will join up all of the supports and services available to disabled people and replace a fragmented system where there is no single agency responsible for driving improved overall outcomes for disabled people.

“The Government is also accelerating efforts to make Aotearoa New Zealand more accessible by introducing a new accessibility framework, backed by legislation and a new Accessibility Governance Board. The Governance Board will be led by and represent disabled people and whānau.

“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,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We know that the Health and Disability review did not go far enough on disability issues, and that’s why Carmel Sepuloni and I commissioned additional work to ensure the aspirations of the disabled community are seriously addressed,” 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 Ministry of Social Development will host the new Ministry for Disabled People. This will ensure the new Ministry will have access to existing shared services and knowledge to help it hit the ground running.

“The establishment of a new Ministry recognises that a broader and ‘whole-of-life’ approach to disability is needed, as opposed to viewing disability as a ‘health issue’,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We have listened to the disabled community and ensured that the mantra of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ sits at the heart of the most transformative changes to the disability system in more than a decade.

The new 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

“The changes we’re announcing today complement the work under way with the health reforms to ensure all New Zealanders, including the disabled community, have equitable access to the care they need, no matter who they are or where they live,” Andrew Little said.

“Putting the voice of disabled people and their families at the heart of decision making is an approach that works, as we’ve seen with the Enabling Good Lives pilots in Christchurch, Waikato and Mid-Central regions.

“Enabling Good Lives empowers disabled people and their families to have more control and choice about the support they receive and that’s why we’ve committed to the national roll-out of Enabling Good Lives,” Andrew Little said.

“I firmly believe the changes announced today epitomise a bold and truly transformative way forward for disabled people and their whānau to thrive in Aotearoa New Zealand. They 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,” Carmel Sepuloni said

“They strike the 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 Enabling Good Lives approach.

“This is the beginning of a true partnership between the disability community and Government,” Carmel Sepuloni said.


*Cabinet Papers for Proactive Release attached.

Carmel Sepuloni and Andrew Little will be announcing these changes to the disabled community and sector at a virtual event hosted by Attitude TV at 2pm.

Click here for the livestream. [get in touch with me if you require raw footage of the livestream]

For sector or community comment, these groups/people have been pre-briefed:

  • DPO Coalition
  • National Enabling Good Lives Leadership Group
  • Access Alliance
  • Whānau Ora Interface Group
  • Te Ao Marama Group
  • National Iwi Chairs Group
  • Tripartite Group (PSA, E Tū, NZ Disability Support Network, NZDSN, Home & Community Health Association, IDEA Services, Carers Alliance
  • Needs Assessment and Service Coordination Association
  • Paula Tesoriero, Disability Rights Commissioner

Ministry for Disabled People:

  • The new Ministry will take on most functions currently delivered by the Disability Directorate in the MOH, as well as assuming new responsibilities.
  • However, the ambition for the new Ministry is much more aspirational. The new agency has been given a mandate to lead a future-focused and whole-of-government approach that drives improved outcomes and greater choice and control for disabled people.
  • The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has been tasked with establishing and hosting the new agency, which will have its own Chief Executive.
  • The new agency will ultimately be functionally and operationally autonomous from MSD, once it has established itself and is in a good position to carry out its functions and mandate.
  • Given the scale and scope of the new agency, MSD is setting up a dedicated Establishment Unit to support its establishment, and the transition of MOH functions.
  • The new Ministry will be established from 1 July 2022.
  • The Establishment 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 Establishment Unit will work closely with the disabled community, tāngata whaikaha, whānau, Maōri and Pacific to understand their aspirations for the new agency, to ensure the community’s vision is built into the DNA of the new agency.
  • It will work with established community groups, including the Machinery of Government Working Group, the Whānau Ora Interface Group, and the National Enabling Good Lives Leadership Group (the National EGL Leadership Group) to ensure that the voices of disabled people and whānau shape this work. The expertise and lived experience of disabled people will be particularly important in shaping the work of the Establishment Unit.
  • While currently we are referring to a ‘Ministry for Disabled People’, we will collaborate with the disability community to identify an appropriate name.


  • The new framework progresses the Accessibility outcome in the New Zealand Disability Strategy. It recognises the importance of improving housing, transport, information, communication, technology, public buildings and spaces, and all areas of life. These are all really important for disabled people to participate in and feel a sense of belonging to their communities and the country.
  • This framework will reflect a partnership with disabled people, recognising disabled people as experts on accessibility from a lived experience perspective, and as advisors that can promote Government accountability on progress.
  • Our current framework for addressing barriers that disabled people face has been fragmented, slow, hard to measure, and hasn’t led to the credible policy, system design, and service delivery needed to achieve an accessible society.
  • To sit alongside our disability system reform and the framework, Government is also establishing an independent Accessibility Governance Board to ensure disabled people continue to be involved in decision making at the highest level possible.
  • In keeping with “nothing about us, without us”, the Board will be led by and represent disabled people, as well as bring in the technical expertise of government policy and business.
  • The Board will have an important role to play in complementing the work Government is doing to improve accessibility, by elevating accessibility, setting policy statements and monitoring progress.

Improving accessibility through legislation:

  • We’re setting out key elements of the framework in new stand-alone legislation.
  • The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill will not set out what people can and can’t do. Rather, it sets out the government’s goals, policy direction, and expectations for change, with a clear process and governance to make that happen.

Implementing the Enabling Good Lives approach to Disability Support Services on a national scale:

  • The Enabling Good Lives is centred on the ‘person, their strengths and aspirations’, and it’s an approach that works, as we’ve seen in the pilot regions.
  • This will fundamentally change disability support services for at least 43,000 disabled people, their families, whānau and communities, and will drive better life outcomes for disabled people at both the local and national level.
  • The EGL vision and principles were developed in 2011 by the disability community to underpin a new approach to disability support. Their vision since day one has been for disabled children and adults and their whānau to have greater choice and control over their supports and lives.
  • Positive outcomes include increased autonomy and social connectedness, improved quality of life, and better access to education and employment opportunities.
  • The demonstration projects also included higher engagement and take up of disability services from the marginalised groups including disabled Māori and Pacific peoples, in comparison with the current disability support system. Engagement with the system by tāngata whaikaha Māori and Pacific disabled people increased by 60 percent in Mana Whaikaha, and by 33 percent overall.

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