Government agency progress reports

Government agencies’ contributions to this 2012 Disability Strategy annual report identify key areas of responsibility under each reporting framework section.

They also highlight the areas of public service accessibility improvement that are continuing and growing, as well as specific initiatives that focus on new directions and approaches for inclusion of disabled people. Some of these include aspects of the seven point Disability Action Plan work programme previously described.

Each of the following sections provides a summary of this information as it relates to inclusion and participation in the six areas of life (outlined in the Introduction above) for an individual to ‘live a good life’.

Health and wellbeing

Public services that support an individual’s personal health and wellbeing including general health services and resources, specific disability support services, domestic and household support services and support for personal decision making.

The Ministry of Health is the key government agency with overall responsibility for the provision of public health and disability services, delivered via District Health Boards and community based providers.

The Ministry provides operational policies and service specifications for the provision of services that are required to ensure “the inclusion and participation in society and independence” of disabled people.

Recent progress highlights from the Ministry include:

  • Release of the report Health Indicators for New Zealanders with Intellectual Disability (in September 2011) which describes the health status and health care utilisation of New Zealanders with intellectual disability. It has provided the basis for a review of effective health programmes for people with intellectual disability, currently being undertaken by the Ministry.
  • A health literacy project with a focus on carers of young Māori with intellectual disability which aims to highlight effective interventions and approaches that strengthen health literacy for these carers, and help them enhance the quality of life for those receiving their care.
  • Transition to the Ministry’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People to increase disabled people’s choice and control over the support they receive and the lives they lead. This includes a demonstration project introducing Local Area Coordinators and Individualised Funding in the Bay of Plenty and a Choices in Community Living demonstration project in Auckland and Waikato.
  • Over the past three years, an increase of $64m in the Ministry’s funding for disability support services has resulted in 550 more people per year funded through supported living and 1,200 more people accessing individualised funding.
  • Launch of Whaia te Ao Marama – Māori Disability Action Plan 2012-17 to address support needs and priorities of disabled Māori and their whānau, through Ministry funded disability support services.

The Ministries of Education and Social Development, and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) also provide services to support health and wellbeing for disabled people. Progress highlights from these services include the following:

  • Ministry of Education implementation of a range of school based programmes under the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Initiative to improve student wellbeing in schools.
  • Ministry of Social Development’s Child, Youth and Family Service have increased the number of social workers in hospitals so they are now available in every hospital to work with children, young people and their families/caregivers.
  • Child, Youth and Family also trained frontline social work staff in the newly introduced Disability Practice Triggers practice guidelines for working with disabled children and young people and their families.
  • The ACC National Serious Injury Service provides a specialist operational unit that supports and works with people who have significant impairments or lasting disabilities following an accident. As at 30 June 2012, the percentage of clients with a disability that said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided by ACC reached 78 percent.

The Office for Disability Issues has been working with a group of government and disability sector representatives developing options to best support disabled people in making personal decisions about themselves and their lives, and to reduce the need for legal measures.

In August 2011 the Enabling Good Lives report was published. The report was commissioned by the Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Tariana Turia, and produced by an independent working group of people from the disability sector. The report presents a new approach to provision of disability supports and provides a model for facilitating support for “disabled people to do everyday things in everyday places”. The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues has agreed to a vision and principles to guide long-term change to the disability support system that is consistent with Enabling Good Lives. The Ministries of Health and Social Development have supported projects in Christchurch, Waikato and Wellington to explore this approach with disabled people, families and providers.

Family, friends and community

Public services that support families with their disabled family members, that enable disabled individuals to participate in social activity, and that enable wider access to and inclusion in the full range of public and community services.

Family, home and domestic, and social support

The Ministries of Health and Social Development have responsibilities for the provision of and access to family, home and domestic support services for disabled people. ACC also includes access to home support assistance under the National Serious Injury Service.

Current progress highlights from these agencies include the following:

  • The Ministry of Health is developing a fairer and more transparent system for access to equipment, housing modifications and vehicle modifications for disabled people and their families.
  • The Ministry of Health and Child, Youth and Family have joint responsibilities for the care and support of children and young people with disabilities, which are outlined in a memorandum of understanding. In 2011/2012 specialist training was developed and provided for caregivers of disabled children, and workshops were held with needs assessment agencies on the assessment of care needs for severely disabled children.
  • A Guide for Carers, a practical guide for people caring for family or friends who have ill health, disabilities, mental illness, and/or other health care issues, was updated by the Ministry of Social Development  as part of its commitment to the New Zealand Carers’ Strategy.
  • The Ministry of Health’s Home and Community Support Sector Standard (NZS 8158:2012), that sets the benchmark for good and safe home support practices by providers, was reviewed and updated.

Provision of a wider context of social support for a disabled person in their home, family and community living environment requires access to a range of activities that may include the family and home social environment, as well as other community activities.

The Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People includes a Choices in Community Living model supporting disabled people who might otherwise need residential services, to plan for and build a life in the community based on a personal plan which allows them to live in their own rented, leased or owned home on the same basis as other people.

The Ministry also contracts with a number of community based service providers for ‘Day Activity’ services.

Inclusive public and community services

Inclusion of disabled people in the range of wider public and community services, relies on provision of inclusive and accessible services at public agencies and in communities.

Government services operating in local communities, and local Council provided services, all have responsibilities to ensure their services reach disabled people.

Inclusiveness of public and community services is dependent on key factors such as location of, and access to, the services as well as how they are delivered. These factors are determined by each agency’s service provision strategies, plans and priorities, within the context of the expectations of their legislative and state sector responsibilities.

Some recent highlights include:

  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s contract for provision of telephone relay services to people who are hearing impaired, speech impaired and deaf. Work and Income and Inland Revenue both promote use of this service.
  • Provisions for the use of Nominated Persons where a person with communication difficulties can request another person to act on their behalf on any particular matter and with any particular agency (eg Work and Income and Inland Revenue).
  • New Zealand Police and the National Foundation for the Deaf (supported by the Law Foundation and Deaf Aotearoa and the Hearing Association) production of a dramatised DVD, You and the Criminal Justice System, to assist people who are hearing impaired or Deaf understand their rights and obligations when involved with the justice system.
  • The Ministry of Justice updated guidelines for staff on management of interpreters and other communication support where effective communication is required in court and tribunal proceedings. The Department of Corrections also use interpreters and communication support where required in their criminal justice settings.
  • The Department of Corrections’ opening of a high dependency unit at Rimutaka Prison that enables health services and custodial staff to provide additional support for prisoners who have ongoing and complex health or disability needs.
  • The Government Web Standards which provide guidance for government agencies’ website design, including accessibility advice. The Department of Internal Affairs completed an accessibility audit of government websites in 2011 which showed that government agencies’ compliance with the Standards is variable. The Standards are currently under review to improve their cost-effectiveness and the ability of agencies “to deliver websites that are accessible to all people, including those with disabilities”.
  • Large format, clear language and video online versions of information leaflets are available for some government provided services (eg emergency services, health and disability support services, Work and Income and Inland Revenue).

Access to digital technology and ultrafast broadband are two of government’s Better Public Services priority actions to improve access for all New Zealanders and to improve business innovation and economic development in New Zealand. Both of these technologies offer increased access and participation for disabled New Zealanders, and together with the Government Web Standards, improve the ways government can successfully reach disabled people.

Crown Fibre Holdings Ltd is the Crown Entity overseeing the deployment of ultra-fast broadband across New Zealand to meet Government’s objective of making ultra-fast broadband available to 75 percent of New Zealanders over ten years. In the first six years this will concentrate on priority broadband users such as businesses, schools and health services, as well as green field developments and certain defined residential areas.

Provision of local government services is determined by each Council’s Long Term Plan and District Plan (required under the Local Government Act 2002), and includes access to libraries, information centres and local public facilities and services. In recent years, many Councils have set up disability advisory groups to provide advice on improving access to these services.

The Upper Hutt City Council was the EEO Trust Diversity Award winner in 2012 for the training they completed for frontline staff to ensure disabled people, in particular, are treated appropriately. The training included staff in all services that connect directly with the community, such as the library, service desks, the swimming pool and the entertainment centre.

Learning, participation and information

Disabled peoples’ access to, and inclusion in, the full range of publicly provided education, learning and training opportunities, language and communication supports, and civic participation opportunities.

Public collection and promotion of disability information, statistics and data, and government supported disability public awareness initiatives.


The Ministry of Education has overall responsibility for how education is provided in New Zealand and how the education system responds to government priorities.

The Ministry sets the operating environment for early childhood education providers, school boards of trustees and tertiary education providers. It provides a range of support, information and tools to support the goal of continually raising the achievement of every learner, and particularly those learners who are consistently ‘under-served’ by the system (including learners with special education needs and disabilities).

The Ministry’s current Statement of Intent identifies learners with special education needs as a priority group. Since 2011/12 the Ministry has had a particular focus on improving education outcomes for learners with special education needs and disabilities.

Recent initiatives under this priority have included:

  • Successful early childhood education project outcomes (mostly in the Auckland area) under the Government’s 2010 Early Childhood Education Participation Programme, which included increased participation of children with special needs.
  • Implementation of the Ministry of Education’s 2011 Success for All, Every School, Every Child as Government’s vision for an inclusive education system, where all children and young people have access to high quality education and are able to participate and achieve at school.
  • Development of an inclusive education online self-review smart tool based on the Education Review Office indicators for including students with high needs. It lets schools know exactly what inclusive education looks like and how they can achieve it. The tool will be trialled in 2013.

Language and communication support

Access to information, language and communication support, assistance and technology is an essential component of participation and inclusion for disabled people in their interactions with public services and in civic activities.

Some government service provision agencies provide specific language and communication support for clients accessing their services:

  • The Ministry of Justice, the Department of Corrections, and New Zealand Police provide access to New Zealand Sign Language interpreters in justice settings where decisions affecting a Deaf person are being considered.
  • In May 2012, the Ministry of Justice updated the guidelines for staff on the use of interpreters. This includes New Zealand Sign Language interpreters as well as provision of access to the New Zealand Relay Service, assistance for people with hearing and speech impairments and blind or sight impaired people.
  • Inland Revenue, Work and Income and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment all provide access to the New Zealand Telephone Relay Service for Deaf callers.

Public and civic participation

Several government agencies engage disability sector advisory groups in development of policy, service provision and accessibility initiatives (eg the Ministry of Health’s Disability Support Services Disability Sector Reference Group and Consumer Consortium, and the Christchurch City Council Disability Advisory Group).

The Convention Coalition (of disabled people’s organisations) also provides independent advice to the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues, as part of the independent monitoring mechanism for the Disability Convention.

The Electoral Commission is responsible for administration of New Zealand’s electoral system in a way that promotes understanding and participation. Specific measures undertaken to encourage the inclusion and participation of disabled people have included engagement with disability groups and development of a wide range of accessibility initiatives. At the 2011 general election the Commission estimates that 80 percent of registered disabled voters participated at a polling place on election day.

Disability statistics and public awareness

Availability of disability statistics and data, and public awareness of disability, are two significant areas that affect the inclusiveness of our public services and our wider society.

Currently, there is a paucity of available disability data, with post Census Disability Survey data being the only comprehensive source of national disability statistics. The next Census and related Disability Survey is planned for 2013.

In addition, government agencies generally do not record or collate disability-related data for their mainstream services, both in terms of access to these services and in terms of particular support and assistance that may be provided to access their services. Only those agencies providing specifically funded disability support services (eg Ministries of Health and Education, and Work and Income) collect their own reporting data on provision of those specific services.

The Disability Convention independent monitors have also noted the lack of disability data as a significant issue in their 2011/12 annual report.

Government has taken steps to increase public awareness of disability issues and encourage inclusiveness. The Ministry of Social Development’s successful Think Differently campaign promoting positive attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people, and the Ministry of Health’s Like Minds, Like Mine campaign have seen wide exposure of positive messages and images of disabled people and increased awareness of accessibility issues.

  • The Think Differently campaign funded 22 successful local community initiatives over 2010-2012 and several national projects. In 2012 a 'year in review' document will highlight the successes of the 2011/12 funding round.
  • Budget 2011 made provision for $1m per annum ongoing funding for the Be.Accessible campaign. Key initiatives include access to advice and assessments, leadership programmes, newsletters and networks, and public awareness campaigns.
  • Phase five of the Like Minds, Like Mine campaign was consolidated in 2011/12. The campaign targets stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. The Ministry of Health’s monitoring of the programme has shown continued improvement in attitudes (eg a 56 percent increase in respondents agreeing that there is more public acceptance of people with mental illness).

NZ On Air and Television New Zealand (TVNZ) have been active in promotion of disability public awareness campaigns, in the provision of disability-related programming (the Attitude programme), and in the use of television captioning (for Deaf and hearing impaired) and audio-description (for vision impaired people). NZ On Air is the Crown entity that provides funding for the making and broadcasting of programmes (for purposes specified in the Broadcasting Act 1989), and TVNZ, also a Crown Entity, is New Zealand’s national broadcaster.

Environment and transport

Accessible home environments, accessible public places and public transport, and inclusive public safety and emergency provisions.

Home environments

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is leading Government’s long-term Social Housing Reform programme which aims to deliver more homes to better meet the requirements of those in need (including disabled people), and provide more choices for those people.

The Ministry’s Social Housing Unit was set up in July 2011. The Unit allocates funding (via the Social Housing Fund) to increase the supply of social and affordable housing, including for disabled people to enable them to live in the community.

The Ministry has also been overseeing the provision of temporary housing, including accessible housing, in Christchurch.

The Ministry of Social Development has contracted with design provider, Lifetime Design Ltd, to promote awareness of lifetime design principles within the home design, housing development, retirement village and building markets in New Zealand.

The Housing New Zealand Corporation has developed new design standards reflecting a range of user requirements (including lifetime design principles), for use in new construction work undertaken for provision of their general rental and community group housing stock. The Corporation is the Crown Entity with responsibility for provision of housing services for people in need, and including social housing.

The Office for Disability Issues and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment also commissioned a review of international experience on how to increase the supply of lifetime designed housing in New Zealand. The review evaluated various levers for effectiveness, including regulatory, market based, and strategic. It found that the best impact comes from a careful combination of measures focusing on the consumer, housing sector and the building industry.

Public places and transport

The New Zealand Transport Agency has responsibility for setting guidelines for public transport and infrastructure requirements. The Agency has recently revised the Pedestrian Planning Design Guide and Requirements for Urban Buses. These guidelines include disability access requirements and advice, and have been developed with advice from disability sector organisations.

The actual design and provision of pedestrian access and public transport is the responsibility of local authorities (regional and local Councils). Planning for this provision is included in Council Long Term Plans and requires public consultation, including consultation with the disability sector in terms of access and inclusion (eg Environment Canterbury project for the redesign of the Christchurch public transport network).

In July 2012, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority released the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan for the rebuild of Christchurch city. This plan identified a key priority for the city rebuild to be fully accessible for all, including public buildings, public places, pathways and roads, parks and playgrounds, and public transport systems. Disabled people’s groups and organisations are involved in contributing to the planning and design phases of the plan’s implementation.

Public safety and emergency management

The New Zealand Police and New Zealand Fire Service have developed a range of initiatives to assist disabled people access safety advice and emergency assistance. These include:

  • Emergency 111 Deaf text service – a service for Deaf and hearing impaired people to contact Fire, Ambulance or Police in an emergency.
  • The Emergency Contact Card – an individualised contact information card, the same size as a credit card that can fit into a wallet or bag where other identification is usually kept.
  • Local Fire Safety Officers provide advice on fire safety measures in homes and local community facilities. This includes fire safety systems and alarms for people with sensory disabilities, and community fire safety awareness and education services for different community groups or facilities (including disabled people’s organisations).

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is currently developing guidance to improve emergency preparation and response in meeting the needs of disabled people. This work involves the development of a Director’s Guideline with direct input from disabled people and agencies, for implementation by civil defence emergency management stakeholders including local government, emergency services, health and disability support services and the community.

Other recent initiatives include:

  • A resource for the blind and partially sighted community (developed in collaboration with the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind) that contains information about the natural disasters we face in New Zealand and provides detailed advice on how to be prepared.
  • A resource for the Deaf and hearing impaired community (produced in collaboration with Deaf Aotearoa) providing information on New Zealand’s hazards and what people should do to prepare for an emergency, including information specific for people with a hearing impairment.
  • A symposium was held in May 2012 in Christchurch to use learnings from the Canterbury earthquakes to improve emergency preparedness and response for disabled people in future emergencies in New Zealand. Recommendations from this symposium are being incorporated in the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management work on a new guideline for emergency management.

Employment and income

Government provisions for fully inclusive work skills development, workplace and employment support, income support and business support to encourage financial independence.

Employment support

Work and Income is one of the key government agencies with responsibility for work skills, workplace and employment support. This is administered through contracted disability vocational service providers, access to training allowances and support, and provision of case management services.

Work and Income has a particular focus on supporting disabled people to gain work skills and qualifications, to find employment or business opportunities, and to access workplace support.

Work and Income has also been active in supporting and encouraging employers to engage and retain disabled employees.

ACC has a specific focus on rehabilitation and return to employment for people who sustain long term disability as the result of an accident.

Recent government employment support initiatives have included:

  • A successful trial of changes to the Work and Income Mainstream Employment Programme with these now being rolled out. Changes include targeting young disabled people, introducing internships for disabled tertiary students and including private sector employers in the programme.
  • The Going Places initiative in Christchurch (a collaboration of the Ministries of Education and Social Development and local communities) to better support learners with special education needs when they transition from school into employment, training, further education or community settings.

Exploration of how disabled beneficiaries can be better supported to access apprenticeships and a review of the effectiveness of the Ministry of Social Development’s existing employment services for disabled people. These initiatives are part of wider welfare reform work on employment assistance to help beneficiaries with a disability find work.

  • Ministry of Social Development support for the Employers’ Disability Network, established in 2010 to encourage and promote positive employer attitudes and perceptions and address barriers to employment of disabled people.
  • The Work and Income Employment Innovation Fund that encourages innovative projects to place and retain disabled people in open employment, including self employment (18 projects were funded in 2011/12).
  • The Disability Employment Summit held in mid-2011, agreed actions to improve and promote the employment of disabled people in New Zealand. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment together with Work and Income, the Employers’ Disability Network and the Disability Employment Forum (of disabled people’s organisations and employment providers) is progressing the following actions from the Summit:
  • Work experience and internship opportunities to connect disabled youth with the labour market, including trialling new approaches for people who have not previously been employed.
  • Engaging with employers to create a disability confident employer sector that recognises the talent within the disability sector (first seminar planned for Christchurch).
  • Connecting employers with potential employees and information about support and assistance for employing disabled people.

Income and business support

Work and Income provides financial income support through a range of benefits and other forms of financial assistance. More than 100,000 people receive sickness or disability-related income assistance through this range of benefits.

Government’s current welfare reform work, being undertaken by the Ministry of Social Development, looks at ways to support disabled people who are able to move into employment or business opportunities, where they are able to generate sustainable income for themselves and reduce reliance on benefit assistance.

The Ministry of Social Development, together with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Inland Revenue, have introduced initiatives to provide support for people to manage their financial situations, budgeting, self employment or small business and taxation. These include initiatives that provide assistance for disabled people:

  • Work and Income and Inland Revenue services available through a range of accessible website facilities, video relay service, local offices with face-to-face services, and interpreting services.
  • Community budgeting services funded through the Ministry of Social Development’s Family and Community Services and located in local community facilities (including some disability organisations). Work and Income case managers provide referrals to these budgeting services for beneficiaries that require financial planning or budget assistance.
  • Government Self Start Support Funds (administered by Workbridge) include the cost of disability-related costs for a disabled person setting up or working in their own business.

Leisure and recreation

Government supports for fully inclusive public recreational and cultural events and places, community arts, cultural and sporting activities, and access to online and digital technology.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has responsibility for advising government on arts, culture, heritage and broadcasting issues and has involvement in a wide range of projects, all aimed at enhancing New Zealand's rich and diverse arts, culture and heritage. The Ministry administers funding for some of these events and projects through agencies such as Creative New Zealand and Sport NZ.

Recent initiatives that encouraged inclusion of disabled people:

  • The 2011 Rugby World Cup included a campaign to involve all New Zealanders in the celebrations, and provision of online links to major initiatives that included disability access and participation information.
  • Sport NZ selection of two lead organisations to cater for disabled athletes – the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation and Special Olympics NZ. Sport NZ invests in both to provide disabled New Zealanders with opportunities to engage in sport and recreation, and also provides a contestable pool of funding, administered by the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, to enable provision of sporting opportunities for disabled participants through other community organisations.
  • The annual Creative New Zealand Arts for All Awards to promote the importance of accessibility in the arts. These are the only awards in New Zealand celebrating the achievements of individuals and organisations working to enhance the artistic lives of people who are marginalised.

Local authorities and the Department of Conservation have responsibilities for access to recreational parks and reserves, national parks and public campsites.

Local authorities are required to include pedestrian and building access requirements in the planning for all of their public parks and reserves amenities, including community halls and playgrounds. Recent park developments in local Council areas throughout the country now demonstrate these access features.

The Department of Conservation identifies increased public participation in recreational activity as one of its priorities. To this end, recent national parks and reserves access and facilities developments include disabled access, and the Department has published a brochure of easy access walks.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage Going Digital programme commenced in 2012 to promote the uptake and smooth roll-out of the switchover to digital television which will be completed by December 2013. The Going Digital website provides information in a range of accessible formats including New Zealand Sign Language video.


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