Implementing the Disability Action Plan

In October 2010, the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues agreed to a Disability Action Plan focusing on key areas where government supports disabled people to live an everyday life.

Work included in the Disability Action Plan must meet the objectives of the New Zealand Disability Strategy and promote the articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities. The plan also provides a central point to understand what is being done by government and what we need to do.

Work under the Disability Action Plan this year focused on three areas disabled people have said are important to them:

  • supports for living (how government funding of supports for disabled people can give people more flexibility, choice and control)
  • mobility and access (what government can do to enable disabled people to move around their community and to have access to information)
  • jobs (what government can do to promote disabled people getting into paid work).

In July 2011 Cabinet agreed to focus new cross-government initiatives in the Disability Action Plan on the Canterbury recovery for the next eighteen months.  This work focuses on all the three areas: supports for living, mobility and access, and jobs.

Canterbury recovery

In July 2011, the following was agreed by Cabinet:

  • the development of Recovery Plans, as required in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, will have regard to the New Zealand Disability Strategy
  • implementation of a trial in Canterbury of more individualised supports for disabled people that increase their choice and control over what they do during the day. This will explore combining existing funding for supports for living in the community (from the Ministry of Health), and for community participation (from the Ministry of Social Development)
  • development of education social services hubs based in some schools, where community members can access a range of social services. This work is being led by the Ministry of Education
  • expansion of Community Links in Christchurch to include other agencies’ services. This work is being led by the Ministry of Social Development
  • improvement of the transitions of disabled students from school into post-school life (the Lead School Transition Service). This work is being led by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development.

The Minister for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and I will report back to Cabinet on the progress of this work programme by February 2012.

Current work includes:

  • the Ministry of Social Development has set up a senior officials group to bring together the key agencies involved in delivering services to disabled people. CERA, the Department of Building and Housing and Housing New Zealand Corporation will meet once a month to oversee the implementation of the actions Cabinet has identified for ensuring disabled people are included in the Canterbury recovery
  • agencies are working to support accessibility for disabled people in the repair and rebuild of buildings and urban spaces. Being more accessible will also make Christchurch a more desirable destination for tourists, particularly for older people.  As part of this, the Office for Disability Issues is endorsing lifetime design, which promotes features that make homes safe, affordable, comfortable, and easy to adapt to changing family needs, particularly those of disabled and older family members 
  • the Ministry of Social Development has contracted the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) to hold eight forums with disabled people in Christchurch to gain their views on how disabled people would like to have their needs met in the rebuild of Christchurch.  The Ministry of Social Development is leading the development of an "Effective Central Government Service Programme" to review and redesign government service delivery in light of changed community and business needs 
  • the Ministry of Social Development is working with the Ministry of Health to identify different and more individualised ways of funding day services for disabled people in Christchurch.

Supports for living

New model for supporting disabled people

We are changing the way that supports are provided, to make it easier for disabled people, and their families, to live an everyday life like other people in the community.

The Ministry of Health is trialling a new model for supporting disabled people in Western Bay of Plenty/Tauranga.  The focus of the new model is to support disabled people to live everyday lives offering increased choice and control over the support they receive and the lives they lead.

Several aspects of the model have been implemented:

  • supported self-assessment, which enables people to tell their story themselves, rather than having to work through a professional assessor, is available for some people seeking support
  • the first Local Area Coordinators[1] have been appointed and trained, and have begun working.

[1] Local Area Coordinators support disabled people and their families/whānau to; get information, work out how they want to live and set goals, build relationships with people and organisations in their communities  and work with communities so they are welcoming of disabled people.

The initial aim of the trial is to learn about the most effective ways of implementing the new model.

Day options for disabled people

In February 2011, I brought together a Working Group of sector stakeholders to take a fresh look at what government should be providing to support disabled people during the day, when they are not working or involved in training or education.

The Working Group proposed a principles-based approach to the design and funding of services, as well as increased leadership from disabled people, their families/whānau and critical allies. I have asked officials to provide me with further information on issues around eligibility, funding, and transition pathways to enable this work to continue. I will report further on this initiative when it has been further developed.

Exercising legal capacity

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises that disabled people have legal capacity on an equal basis with others. In other words, an individual cannot lose his/her legal capacity to act simply because of a disability. (However, legal capacity can still be lost in situations that apply to everyone, such as if someone is convicted of a crime).

The Office for Disability Issues and the Ministry of Social Development are working with a group of government and disability sector representatives to develop options to best support people to make decisions and to reduce the need for legal measures.  The Working Group first met in May 2011. Development of options will continue in 2012.

Health indicators: people with intellectual impairment

The Ministry of Health has released a report this year on Health Indicators for New Zealanders with Intellectual Disability, which:

  • shows that people with intellectual impairment tend to experience higher rates of health problems and use health services more. The exception is preventive screening services which people with intellectual impairment use less than other people. These findings are consistent with similar international studies
  • provides a baseline against which changes in health status, and the effects of health interventions for people with intellectual impairment, can be measured in future years
  • highlights the need to improve the health status of people with intellectual impairment

The Ministry of Health is currently reviewing effective health programmes for people with an intellectual impairment both internationally and in New Zealand. It is expected that this review, along with the report, will help shape the policy, planning and service delivery decisions of District Health Boards, primary care providers, and other health service providers. 

Support for carers

A Guide for Carers - He Aratohu mā ngā Kaitiaki was updated this year by Carers New Zealand, the Ministry of Social Development and other government agencies.

The guide provides information on government-funded services and support available for carers, making it easier for them to find out exactly what support is available.

Increased funding for disability support services

The Government has allocated an extra $130 million for Ministry of Health funded disability support services over the next four years.

An extra $8.5 million a year extra is going into residential support services with some of that to help deal with increasing numbers of people being supported in these facilities.

The range of services that support people to live in their home, (Home and Community Support Services) for activities like showering, getting dressed, preparing a meal, and house work, is to receive another $6.6 million a year.

$2.5 million is allocated in 2011/12 for equipment and modification services, on top of the $27 million announced in March last year to address waiting times and increasing costs.

Some other areas of disability support receiving extra annual funding in the 2011 Budget include:

  • $1.5m for respite for carers enabling them to take a short break
  • $2.5m for assessment, treatment and rehabilitation services, where District Health Boards coordinate help for disabled people to recover from a setback and live as independently as possible.

A range of community based services will also receive additional funding for rehabilitation, head injuries, child development, and specialist support.

Behaviour Support Services

The Ministry of Health has recently completed a project to evaluate possible models for ongoing delivery of Behaviour Support Services for people with an intellectual impairment.  As a result, the Ministry of Health will be working to implement a new model of Behaviour Support Services to ensure services are nationally consistent, effective, equitable and provide value for money.

Mobility and access

Total Mobility Scheme

The New Zealand Transport Agency oversees the Total Mobility Scheme, which is provided by regional councils. Initiated in the early 1980s, the Scheme is provided throughout New Zealand. 

The Total Mobility Scheme provides a subsidised taxi service to disabled people who are unable to independently use public transport. Generally a discount of 50 per cent off the normal taxi fare is available to eligible users.

The Total Mobility Scheme also provides funding assistance for the purchase and installation of wheelchair hoists in taxi vans and a $10 payment to taxi operators for trips that require the use of a wheelchair hoist.

A Total Mobility User Guide is now available in accessible formats, on the internet and through the Telephone Information Service administered by the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. This user guide provides a comprehensive list of all transport providers, wheelchair hoist operators and contact information to make travelling in other regions more straightforward.

Review of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006

The purpose of the New Zealand Sign Language Act is to provide recognition of sign language as a unique New Zealand language and to give it equal status to that of spoken languages.

In 2011 the Office of Disability Issues completed a review of Act. The review concluded that, while no changes to the Act are necessary, departments need to focus on implementation of the Act. 

The Ministry of Justice is taking action in this area and is running a project to increase the capability and quality of all interpreters who are engaged by the court (including New Zealand Sign Language interpreters). Updated interpreter guidelines for court staff will be developed. By October 2012, only fully qualified interpreters, bound by a code of ethics and subject to a robust complaints process, will be engaged by the courts.

Be. Accessible

The Government will invest $4 million over the next four years in Be. Accessible.

Be. Accessible is an exciting and innovative social change campaign that aims to influence the attitudes and behaviours of New Zealanders so we can each play our part in creating a truly accessible nation.

Be. Accessible has been developed in partnership with Auckland District Health Board, Auckland Council and AUT University, as well as many others in the public, private and disability sectors.

Its aim is to inspire and enable businesses, individuals and organisations to step up to the economic and social opportunity to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. 

This investment in Be. Accessible builds on the work already done in preparation for the Rugby World Cup 2011. Be. Accessible has made available access information on key locations in the 12 host cities in the lead up to the event.

Telecommunications Relay Service

A Telecommunications Relay Service to meet the telephone communication needs of Deaf, hearing impaired and speech-impaired people, was established in New Zealand in 2004.

A permanent Video Relay Service was implemented in 2010, following an initial trial. It enables Deaf people to use New Zealand Sign Language to communicate with voice telephone users, and vice versa.

In 2011, the Ministry of Economic Development signed a new supply agreement with Sprint International New Zealand for the provision of relay services for the Deaf, deaf-blind, speech and hearing impaired communities. The new supply agreement starts in October 2011 and is for an initial period of five years.

All the existing relay services will continue to be provided. The availability of some relay services that are currently provided on a limited hours basis will be expanded.

A number of new relay services will be progressively introduced to better meet the telephone service needs of the user community, including:

  • captioned telephony through the fixed telephone network or the internet
  • instant messaging from cell phones (ie text to speech equivalent)
  • international calls by internet relay via use of a prepaid calling card.

Sprint International New Zealand will be working with the user communities to ensure awareness of the Telecommunications Relay Service services, and will also provide training and support.

The emergency 111 Deaf TXT service

This is a service for Deaf and hearing impaired people. This service makes it easier to contact Fire, Ambulance or Police in an emergency. New Zealand Police developed the service with support from Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand, the New Zealand Fire Service, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance.

Promoting lifetime design

Lifetime design promotes designs for new homes which incorporate features that make them safe, affordable, comfortable, and easy to adapt to changing family needs, particularly those of disabled and older family members.

The Government is investing $1.5 million from 2010 to 2013, through Lifetime Design Ltd, to help promote design standards for homes that are accessible over a person's lifetime.  Over the 2010-11 year, 144 Lifemark certified dwellings were completed.

Enabling participation in the electoral system

Information about voting in this year’s General Election and the Referendum on the Voting System needs to be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

The Electoral Commission has developed and funded a range of accessible resources, to ensure that everyone has what they need to vote:

  • information is available across a number of formats through the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) for the blind, deaf-blind and vision impaired communities. This includes brochures in Braille, and information on tape, CD, and electronic files. The Electoral Commission’s website is accessible for people with vision impairments
  • a DVD is available for Deaf and hearing impaired people, that provides explanatory information about enrolling and voting in New Zealand Sign Language, with English subtitles.  It also includes detailed information about the Referendum on the Voting System
  • another DVD resource about enrolling, voting and the Referendum on the Voting System is available for people with learning disabilities. This DVD was developed in conjunction with IHC. It comes with a facilitation guide for group viewing and discussion and is available on request from the Electoral Commission
  • plain English guides, in both poster and booklet format, have also been produced. These are suitable for people with low literacy, as well as for those with English as a second language.

In addition all people can:

  • nominate other persons to assist them to read and mark their voting paper
  • vote in advance of the election day and/or in another place outside of the voting booth
  • nominate another person to register for them and vote on their behalf if they do not have the capacity to understand the nature of the decision to register as an elector.

Promoting positive attitudes towards disabled people

Disabled people say that people's attitudes and behaviours can be as big a barrier to participating in society as physical barriers can be. Promoting greater understanding of disability, and disabled people's desire to live a life on an equal basis with others, is a key action in the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There needs to be a widespread attitudinal change before there will be a change in behaviour.

The Government has invested $3 million over three years for a campaign to promote positive attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people. The Ministry of Social Development is leading the campaign, which focuses on addressing the constraints of a disabling society.

The campaign is funding initiatives that drive community social change, strengthen existing initiatives and support new approaches to changing attitudes.

There are two primary funding channels:

  • a national strategic partnership with organisations to develop and implement projects that will increase access to employment, education, and goods and services
  • the Making a Difference fund for local, community-based initiatives that are collaborative and have support from across the community.

The initial national partners are:

  • Be Accessible Campaign
  • Deaf Aotearoa
  • Māori and Pacific Island Disabled People’s Leadership Programme
    • Te Roopu Waiora Trust
    • Wellington Pasefika Peoples Disability Network
  • The Asian Network
  • Diversity NZ
  • The Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA)
  • Autism New Zealand.

Accessible broadcasting

Following a successful pilot of an audio description track of Coronation Street earlier in the year, New Zealand On Air has confirmed continued funding of an audio description service on TVNZ's digital channels.

The audio description service now includes New Zealand programmes as well as overseas content.


Improving paid work opportunities for disabled people

A Disability Employment Long Term Plan is being developed by the Ministry of Social Development in consultation with the disability sector and employers. This Plan will have prioritised, practical and concrete actions that all parties can work towards to improve and promote the employment of disabled people in New Zealand.

The following high-level action areas for the plan have been agreed at a Disability Employment Summit which brought together members of the Employment Disability Forum[1] , the Employers Disability Network[2] and government:

  • more leadership from large employers, local bodies and the public sector in the employment of disabled people (led by the Employers Disability Network)
  • more work experience to be available including through internships.  This will include people in tertiary education, and after school/holiday work so disabled people have the same opportunities to compete for jobs (led by the Employment Disability Forum)
  • a resource for (and by) employers on policies around recruitment and retention of disabled people (led by the Employers Disability Network)
  • a flexible and adequate funding model that improves pathways and employment outcomes for disabled people (led by the Ministry of Social Development).

A reporting framework will be developed by the Ministry of Social Development for monitoring the implementation of the Disability Employment Long Term Plan, which will be launched in 2012.

[1] The Employment Disability Forum is composed of 19 disability sector organisations. It was initiated by the Disabled Persons Assembly (NZ). The Employment Disability Forum focuses on disabled people, disability organisations and employers being proactive in exploring options, finding solutions and developing collaboratively the way forward for disabled people in employment.

[2] The Employers Disability Network is a not-for-profit employer led organisation funded by its members to take a leadership role in advancing the equitable inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of business. The Employers Disability Network assists businesses to build skills in relation to people with disabilities as employees, customers and other stakeholders, shares best practice on disability.

Employers Disability Network

The Employers Disability Network was established with the assistance of the Ministry of Social Development. It supports employers’ understanding of disabled people, helps more people into work and improves services to disabled customers.

Two new resources have been launched on the Employers Disability Network website:

  • Line Managers Guide produced by Workbridge.  This guidance makes it easier for managers to recognise and realise the potential of disabled people
  • Line Managers Guide for mental health issues produced by Mindful Employers. This guidance makes it easier for managers to recognise and realise the potential of people who experience mental health issues.

The Employers Disability Network is also working in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development-led campaign to promote positive attitudes toward disabled people and improve attitudes to employing disabled people.

The Mainstream Employment Programme

The Mainstream Employment Programme gives disabled people the opportunity to gain paid on-the-job work experience in integrated work settings. 

The programme is administered by the Ministry of Social Development and provides a package of wage and training subsidies and other support.

The Government decided earlier this year to refocus Mainstream to:

  • target the programme towards young disabled people (including school leavers and graduates) and introduce paid internships for disabled tertiary students
  • expand eligible employers to include the private sector and wider state sector
  • increase the wage subsidy in the second year of a placement from 50 to 80 per cent.

These changes are being implemented by Work and Income. The first phase began in July 2011 and changes were implemented in the Auckland region. The second phase, beginning July 2012, will roll out the changes to the rest of the country, subject to any decisions based on the first phase experience. The increase in the subsidy paid in the second year of a placement took effect for new participants on 1 July 2011 nationwide.

Focusing on specific groups

Review of Special Education

In 2010 the Government carried out a Review of Special Education. The aim of the review was to ensure that policies and processes are fair, consistent, reach those most in need, make the best use of government funding, and that parents have choices.

Success for All - Every School, Every Child is the Government's response to the Special Education Review. Its vision is for a fully inclusive education system that ensures all children and young people have access to high quality education that allows them to participate and succeed at school.

The Ministry of Education is leading a package of key changes that will build on and link with other improvements within the special education system by:

  • setting high expectations and increasing accountability for schools
  • reducing bureaucracy to make it easier for parents and students to get the support they need
  • getting better value from the Government’s investment so more students get better support.

Faiva Ora - National Pasifika Disability Plan

Faiva Ora, a national Pasifika disability plan, was established by the Ministry of Health in 2010.  Faiva Ora outlines the priority actions and outcomes that support Pacific disabled peoples and their families to live in their homes and take part in their communities in the same way as other New Zealanders.

Work under Faiva Ora in 2011 includes:

  • collection of Pacific disability workforce data
  • establishment of the Faiva Ora national leadership group
  • Pacific cultural competency training for mainstream services.
  • running a Pacific disability provider forum to share best practice and innovation
  • providing accessible disability service information in Pacific languages. 

New ‘disability practice triggers’ for social workers

Child, Youth and Family introduced new ‘disability practice triggers’. These are prompts for social workers to use when working with disabled children and young people.

The purpose of the disability practice triggers are:

  • to strengthen knowledge and skills in relation to working with disabled children and young people and their families
  • to enhance the quality of services and supports provided to disabled children, young people and their families
  • to enhance the participation of disabled children and young people in decisions relating to them.

The disability practice triggers focus on early needs assessment, mobilisation of cross-sectoral services, and early planning for transition to adult services.

Supporting People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Ministry of Health has a number of work programmes aimed at supporting people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

  • Communication and behaviour support services for children and young people with ASD (Auckland). This is the first ASD specific behaviour support programme established within New Zealand by the Ministry of Health. The service has had a positive evaluation
  • Introduction of ASD developmental coordination to Child Development Services within District Health Boards.  The aim of this role is to ensure family, whānau and carers receive coordinated services for their child or young person. This function covers both pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis coordination
  • Werry Centre specialist clinician training.  An Advanced Module of two days training for diagnosticians has been developed
  • ASD Family and Whānau Outreach programme.  This is an early intervention service for families to link with and access services and supports.  This service also aims to improve access to ASD related services for Māori, Pacific and other cultural groups
  • Altogether Autism – Disability Information Advisory Service.  This is an information service specifically for people with ASD, their families/whānau and the wider community.

Page last updated: