Section one: Key achievements in 2014

Several achievements in 2014 have laid the ground work for improving the identification and removal of barriers that disabled people experience, and to ensure they have the same opportunity to live a good life like other New Zealanders. This includes:
  • approval of the new Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 and a new way of working with disabled people
  • expansion of the Enabling Good Lives approach
  • new funding for New Zealand Sign Language
  • release of the 2013 Disability Survey
  • Examination on the CRPD
  • Building Access Review.

This section outlines what has happened with each of these achievements and why they are so important.

Disability Action Plan 2014-2018

Making sure disabled people are involved in decision-making that concerns them is very important. This is because disabled people themselves are experts in their own lives and are best-placed to advise on issues and solutions to barriers they experience. It is also included in the CRPD Article 4(3) as a specific obligation for Governments:

In the development and implementation of legislation and policies…, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organisations.

The Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 is very different to previous plans because it was co-designed by government agencies working together with disabled people, through DPOs. This new and collaborative way of working is an example of putting Article 4(3) of the CRPD into practice.

The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues approved the new Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 on 8 April 2014 and the Plan was considered by Cabinet in May 2014.

In line with the Government’s priority to deliver Better Public Services, the Disability Action Plan prioritises actions that require government agencies to work together. It also ensures that DPOs and other organisations with relevant expertise on the area are involved. As many of the barriers disabled people face span different government agencies’ and disability organisations’ responsibilities, this collaborative approach is very important.

The Disability Action Plan’s shared vision is that ‘All New Zealanders experience equal rights of citizenship’. Supporting this vision are five person-directed outcomes that focus activity on making a positive difference in disabled people’s everyday lives:

  • Safety and autonomy: I am safe in my home, community, and work environment. I feel safe to speak up or complain, and I am heard. Those assisting me (professionals and others) have high awareness, and I do not experience abuse.
  • Wellbeing: I feel dignity and cultural identity through a balance of family/community, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. I can earn and grow my wealth on an equal basis with others.
  • Self-determination: I make my decisions myself based on my aspirations. I have access to information and support so that my decisions are informed.
  • Community: I feel welcomed by my community. I feel respected for my views and my contribution is received on an equal basis with others.
  • Representation: DPOs represent collective issues that have meaning for me (based on lived experience) in a way that has influence and impact. DPOs are sustainable with the capacity to deliver their role and evolve over time.

Actions are grouped into four shared result areas:

  1. Increasing employment and economic opportunities
  2. Ensuring personal safety
  3. Transforming the disability support system
  4. Promote access in the community.

A new governance mechanism was agreed consisting of joint meetings every three months of the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and DPOs. The governance group is responsible for agreeing to priorities and actions, and monitoring progress with implementation.

The Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 is available on the Office for Disability Issues website: Disability Action Plan .

A new way of working

On 30 July 2014, the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and the DPOs signed A new way of working together, which is an agreement to implement Article 4(3) of the CRPD.

The agreement is based on five principles:

  1. Government will engage with DPOs as representatives of disabled people
  2. We involve the right people, at the right time, in the right work
  3. We value the contribution of each party and make it easy to engage
  4. We will be open, honest, transparent and creative in our engagement with each other
  5. We jointly learn about how to engage with each other.

To support implementation of this agreement, it is included as a specific action in the Disability Action Plan under the Transform the disability support system result area (action 9(a)). The scope of this action was approved by the governance meeting of the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and DPOs on 21 November 2014.

Work will commence in early 2015. It will include supporting the joint capacity and capability building of DPOs and identification of engagement champions within government agencies.

Enabling Good Lives

Enabling Good Lives represents a new way of providing disability support. Enabling Good Lives gives disabled people and their families more choice over the support they receive. While 2014 is just the second year of demonstrating the Enabling Good Lives approach to supporting disabled people, it was significant as key decisions were made regarding:

  • expansion of the Christchurch demonstration to phase two
  • approval to proceed with a high level design for a demonstration in the Waikato.

The Enabling Good Lives approach began in 2011 with the release of an independent report. It recommended a fundamental shift to a cross-government disability support system to give disabled people, their families and whānau greater choice and control over their supports and their everyday lives. In July 2013, Cabinet agreed to a three-year demonstration of the Enabling Good Lives approach in Christchurch.

Enabling Good Lives is a strengths-based, person-centred approach which means that disabled people can decide what works best for them to meet their aspirations rather than being forced to fit into funding and service boxes that predetermine what they can and cannot do. This includes employing support workers they choose, and doing everyday things in everyday places in the community.

Christchurch demonstration

Fifty-two young people with high needs, who left school in November 2013, and their families participated in phase one of the Christchurch demonstration. Eleven navigators (independent facilitators) have helped them identify their aspirations and goals and develop plans to achieve them.

In this second year of the demonstration, Christchurch will again be focusing on school leavers aged 18–21 years old. The first year of the demonstration has provided valuable learnings on changes and improvements required to the system for better implementation of the demonstration.

The demonstration is supported by a Local Advisory Group which includes disabled people, families and whānau, disability sector leaders. The Local Advisory Group worked with officials from the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

Waikato demonstration

In 2014, the Government agreed to provide $3.8 million over three years for an Enabling Good Lives demonstration in the Waikato. The proposed approach to developing the high-level design of this demonstration was agreed by the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues in July 2014. In September 2014, two joint Directors were appointed to lead the three-year demonstration, which will begin in 2015. In December 2014, Cabinet agreed to the high-level design of the Waikato demonstration.

The Waikato Leadership Group also includes disabled people, family members, providers, local officials and other leaders in the disability sector. The Leadership Group has identified major strengths in the Waikato region to build on the design of the demonstration. These include:

  • strong local networks
  • families’ high expectations for their disabled family members
  • providers who are committed to change
  • strong engagement with and understanding of, the Enabling Good Lives approach.

Four action areas have been proposed by the Waikato Leadership Group for the demonstration:

  • Increasing individual choice in all aspects of life including where you live, who you live with and what you do in the day, which includes building on the Choices in Community Living approach. The target group for this action area are people who receive disability support services with a primary focus on people:
  • aged under 65 who are in, or are considering entry into, residential or aged care, and who want something different and choose to be part of the demonstration
  • who are less able to advocate for themselves, or who do not have people in their lives who can ensure their voice is heard.
  • Disabled Māori and their whānau are fully involved in the design and implementation of the demonstration in the Waikato. The Leadership Group has identified disabled Māori and whānau as a priority group. The newly appointed Co-Directors have begun the process of engaging with Tainui and Te Piringa to ensure key people are part of the design and implementation. Disabled Māori, whānau, Māori providers and iwi will all be involved in the design process. Potential links with Whānau Ora and other Māori initiatives in the Waikato will also be explored.
  • Disabled children and young people have the same life experiences and outcomes as other children and young people. The target group will be families and whānau of disabled children and young people with a primary focus on families and whānau who are engaged with the Enabling Good Lives family forums, or have been recently told their child has a disability, or families who want something different. 
  • Increasing employment outcomes for disabled people - The target group for this action area will be disabled people who, with a small amount of assistance, can get and retain ongoing paid employment. The priority focus will be on disabled people who participate in the employment or disability forums, as well as other disabled people who want employment. 

The Waikato demonstration is intended to expand the evidence available to inform the case for transforming the disability support system throughout New Zealand.

New Zealand Sign Language

New Zealand is one of the few countries around the world that recognises sign language as an official language. In Budget 2014, the Government announced funding of $6 million over four years for the promotion and maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

Approximately 11,000 deaf people use NZSL as their primary form of communication and 20,000 people in total use NZSL according to Statistics New Zealand (Census, 2013). NZSL is an integral part of deaf people’s cultural identity.

The Human Rights Commission inquiry report, A new era in the right to sign (2013), identified that many deaf people experience barriers in learning and using NZSL that impact on their quality of life and full enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

In response to the Human Rights Commission inquiry, the Office for Disability Issues convened a NZSL Experts Advisory Group to provide advice on promoting and maintaining NZSL in the longer term. In April 2014, the Experts Advisory Group made recommendations to the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues. This included identifying five priority areas:

  1. Include NZSL in education
  2. Promote NZSL in the home
  3. Provide access to information and service in NZSL
  4. Provide access for deaf Māori
  5. Develop interpreter standards.

Cabinet agreed to these recommendations in May 2014.

Of the $1.5 million funding per year, $1.25 million will be for a new NZSL Fund for community initiatives that promote and maintain NZSL across the five priority areas. The remaining funding will support the establishment and ongoing costs of a NZSL Advisory Board that will oversee the promotion and maintenance of NZSL.

The NZSL Advisory Board will have up to 10 members and will represent the diversity of NZSL users. Membership will include: a minimum of six deaf people, two deaf Māori, one deaf Pasifika, one person representing the non-verbal community that use NZSL and one DPO representative for the deaf community (Deaf Aotearoa). Once established, the NZSL Advisory Board will develop a three year plan to progress the five priorities.

The NZSL Advisory Board will be established in early 2015 by the Office for Disability Issues.

2013 Disability Survey

In addition to working with disabled people, as the experts in their own lives, good quality information is critical to making informed decisions on priority setting on disability issues.

The 2013 Disability Survey, which was conducted by Statistics New Zealand following the 2013 Census, is currently the most comprehensive source of information on disabled people in New Zealand. Results from the Disability Survey began to be released from mid-2014.

This is the fourth time the Disability Survey has been run since 1996. Each time the quality of the data continues to improve. While recognising more needs to be done to improve the collection of information, the most recent survey represents an important achievement.

In the Disability Survey, an estimated 24 percent of the population, or 1.1 million New Zealanders, were identified as disabled people.

We have learned that disabled people are a diverse population:

  • Disability increases with age, with 59 percent of people aged 65 or over experiencing disability.
  • Physical impairments are the most common for adults (15 years or over).
  • For children (0-14 years), boys (13 percent) are more likely to be have an impairment than girls (8 percent).
  • Learning, psychological/psychiatric and speaking difficulties are the three most common impairments for children.
  • Disability rates vary by ethnic group:
    • Māori – 26 percent
    • European/Pākehā – 25 percent
    • Pacific – 19 percent
    • Asian – 13 percent.

The Disability Survey also shows that, on average, disabled people experience poorer socio-economic, educational and health outcomes than non-disabled people. For example:

  • 50 percent of disabled adults participate in the labour force, compared with 76 percent of non-disabled adults
  • 67 percent of disabled people hold a school or tertiary qualification, compared with 85 percent of non-disabled people

36 percent of disabled people report their health to be very good or excellent, whereas the equivalent figure for non-disabled people is 72 percent.

Examination on the CRPD

In 2014, New Zealand was reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), an independent international committee of experts elected by States Parties to the CRPD.

There were several steps to this process:

  • 2011: New Zealand submitted a written report on progress to the CRPD Committee.
  • June 2014: New Zealand submitted a written response to the List of Issues (questions) from the CRPD Committee. (Note: the questions are based on information from the 2011 report and more recent contributions from civil society in New Zealand).
  • 15 – 16 September 2014: A delegation of senior government officials were examined by the CRPD Committee at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives from civil society, including DPOs and non-government organisations, also attended and had a separate session with the CRPD Committee.
  • 3 October 2014: The CRPD Committee released its Concluding Observations (recommendations) to the Government.

The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues will consider the Government’s response to the Concluding Observations in early 2015, which will be followed by consideration by Cabinet. While Governments have one year from the release of the Concluding Observations to provide a response, it is expected that New Zealand’s response will be provided to the CRPD Committee in April 2015.

The process for considering the Concluding Observations from the CRPD Committee will also include considering the recommendations from the 2012 and 2014 reports of the Independent Monitoring Mechanism.

The Independent Monitoring Mechanism comprises the Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman and the Convention Coalition (a group of DPOs). The Independent Monitoring Mechanism was established by the Government in 2010 to provide independent monitoring on implementation of the CRPD.

The process of reporting and examination by the CRPD Committee and the monitoring by the Independent Monitoring Mechanism provide an independent view of what is going well and what needs to be improved for disabled New Zealanders. For example, the CRPD Committee noted the good practice with the codesign of the Disability Action Plan with DPOs and the Enabling Good Lives demonstrations.

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