Section one: Key achievements in 2016

Several achievements in 2016 have continued work towards improving the identification and removal of barriers that disabled people experience, and to ensure they have the same opportunities and outcomes as other New Zealanders.

These include:

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

The launch of the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026

The revised New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026 (the Strategy) was launched on 29 November 2016. It will provide the mandate for and guide the work of government agencies to identify and remove barriers faced by disabled people for the next ten years. The Strategy can also be used as a tool to inform the work of other organisations, including non-government organisations, that make decisions on issues that impact on and are important to disabled people.

Underpinning the new Strategy are what disabled people said was the most important issues for them. A first phase of consultation was held during April and May 2016. This focused on understanding what was most important to disabled people and what an inclusive New Zealand society should look like in the future. A wide range of people participated in the consultation, including disabled people, their families, whānau, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), allies, service providers and government agencies. Five hundred people attended 21 workshops, focus group discussions and presentations, and over 600 submissions were received. A new draft Strategy was then developed from this feedback and advice from the New Zealand Disability Strategy Revision Reference Group.

In July 2016, Cabinet approved the draft Strategy for a second phase of public consultation. This took place in July and August 2016. The purpose of this second phase was to check whether the draft Strategy accurately reflected the issues raised during the first phase. Over 630 people attended 30 workshops, focus group discussions and presentation, and around 170 submissions were received.

The vision grounding the new Strategy is a non-disabling society, a place where disabled New Zealanders have an equal opportunity to achieve their goals and aspirations. The Strategy has two broad approaches:

  • a long-term approach which means investing in disabled people’s whole lives
  • a twin-track approach that recognises that:
    • mainstream supports and services are developed within a universal design framework to accommodate everyone, including disabled people
    • high quality specific supports and services may be required by some disabled people for part or all of their lives.

Eight key interconnected outcome areas for targeted action are set out in the Strategy. These include education, employment and economic security, health and wellbeing, rights protection and justice, accessibility, attitudes, choice and control and leadership.

Accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

In October 2016, New Zealand acceded to the Optional Protocol to the CRPD (OP-CRPD). The OP-CRPD provides a mechanism for individuals or groups of individuals to complain to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee), if they believe that their CRPD rights have been breached. Complaints may only be received by the Committee after all effective domestic channels have been exhausted. Findings from the Committee are not binding on States, but they have considerable moral force. The OP-CRPD also allows the Committee to inquire into the situation of disabled people’s rights in a State Party, where grave or systematic violations of the CRPD are suspected.

Accession to the OP-CRPD demonstrates the Government’s commitment to safeguarding the rights of disabled people in New Zealand. While most complaints can be resolved through domestic channels (eg Office of the Ombudsman, the courts or the Human Rights Commission), the OP-CRPD means that disabled New Zealanders will have access to the full range of human rights protections available internationally.  

In November 2016, the OP-CRPD came into force in New Zealand.  

Extension of the Enabling Good Lives approach

In July 2013, Cabinet agreed to a small demonstration of the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach in Christchurch from 2013 to 2016. In December 2014, Cabinet agreed to another demonstration in the Waikato region from 2014 to 2017.

Each of the demonstrations was designed in partnership with a local advisory group (made up of disabled people, families and service providers), which determined its target group. 

The key characteristics of both the demonstrations include:

  • a vision and a set of principles to guide decision-making
  • independent facilitation
  • development of a personal plan
  • making better use of mainstream services
  • new assessment and funding processes
  • capacity building for disabled people, families and providers
  • pooled funding from the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), which can be used by each individual to flexibly purchase supports and services.

The Christchurch demonstration of the EGL approach

The Christchurch demonstration of the EGL approach ended on 30 June 2016. This demonstration focused on supporting school leavers aged 18 to 21 years, who had been assessed with High Needs or Very High Needs through the MOE’s Ongoing Resourcing Scheme, transition from secondary school.  A total of 246 school leavers participated in the demonstration.

From 1 July 2016, interim arrangements have ensured that school leavers are able to access one of the key components of demonstration – up to six hours of independent facilitation. Independent facilitation supports disabled people and their families to make their own decisions about what a good life means to them, and helps to identify options to progress this.

As at 18 November 2016, 47 eligible school leavers had accessed the EGL approach since 1 April 2016. 

The final evaluation of the Christchurch demonstration is being finalised, and is expected to be available by the end of the year.

The Waikato demonstration of the EGL approach

The demonstration in the Waikato is now in its second year. It continues to attract strong interest from people wanting to participate. The minimum target of 155 participants in the demonstration over two years has been exceeded. There are currently 196 people engaged in the demonstration, and 36 people on the waiting list. Thirty-one percent of the participants identify as Māori.

In November 2016, EGL Waikato celebrated 109 participants receiving their budget, 88 of whom (81 percent) are receiving their funding directly. Participants have said that it has enhanced their confidence, allowed them to make their funding go further, and allowed them to have greater flexibility. This has also allowed families to reconnect with their wider community and their culture, given that they experience less stress about the supports they were previously receiving or even missing.

The evaluation of Phase One of the demonstration has been completed and was made publicly available on 22 September 2016. The second evaluation is currently been compiled and is expected to be released by the end of the year. As with the Christchurch demonstration, the lessons from the Waikato, along with the evaluations, have helped to inform the development of advice to the Government on the options to transform the disability support system.

The National EGL Leadership Group

The National EGL Leadership Group is actively promoting the EGL approach to disability support service providers. The New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN), with the National Enabling Good Lives Leadership Group (NEGL), will be holding a series of workshops, with the first in Palmerston North on 29 November 2016.

The workshops focus on giving providers a better understanding of the EGL vision and principles, and what this means for them in relation to:

  • organisational development
  • renegotiating relationships with people using services
  • being person driven and what this looks like in practice.

The providers who attend the workshop will be expected to have completed the organisation self-review, which the Ministry of Social Development contracted the Standards and Monitoring Services to develop. The self-review can be found on the Enabling Good Lives website at:

The approval of the New Zealand Sign Language Board’s three-year Action Plan and the completion of the New Zealand Sign Language Fund’s second funding round  

New Zealand is one of the few countries around the world that recognises sign language as an official language. Approximately 11,000 Deaf people use New Zealand Sign Language (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.

In the course of the development of the NZSL’s Board three-year Action Plan, members of the NZSL community were consulted in 13 meetings across New Zealand. This consultation process provided an excellent platform to raise awareness of the NZSL Board.

In February 2016, the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues approved the NZSL Board’s three-year Action Plan. The Action Plan progresses the five initial priorities for NZSL that Cabinet approved when the NZSL Board was first established. These priorities include:

  • promoting NZSL in education
  • including NZSL in the home
  • providing access to information and services
  • providing access for Māori Deaf
  • developing interpreter standards.

There are, in total, 13 actions to be implemented under the Action Plan.

The second funding round for the NZSL Fund was completed in 2016. Twenty-four projects that will support, promote and maintain NZSL across New Zealand were approved, and received a total of $751,114. Deaf children and their families and whānau, in particular, will benefit from the opportunities created by this year’s projects. Successful projects include:

  • the development of a youth mentorship programme
  • a series of NZSL Immersion Courses in Otago, where there is limited access to NZSL for families and whānau with Deaf children
  • a national conference for families and whānau with Deaf children.

Funding projects to support Deaf children and their families and whānau are of paramount importance to ensure the transfer of Deaf culture and sign language to the next generation. Further information on these projects is available on the ODI website: .

In addition to the funding for community projects, the NZSL Fund contributed $295,000 to support NZSL Week 2016.

The implementation of the Disability Data and Evidence Working Group work programme

Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) and ODI began to jointly lead the implementation of the Disability Data and Evidence Working Group’s (the Working Group) work programme in 2016. This work programme is Action 9E in the DAP.

The aim of the work programme is to develop a Disability Data and Evidence Plan. The purpose of the Disability Data and Evidence Plan is to develop a shared understanding of the strengths, gaps, overlaps and deficiencies in data and evidence relating to disabled people in New Zealand. It will help make sure that we collect the right information on disability to ensure that the right decisions are made on issues that impact on disabled New Zealanders. There are four steps involved in the development of the Disability Data and Evidence Plan:

  1. Develop an agreed set of enduring questions to identify long-term needs for data and evidence on disabled people.
  2. Carry out a stocktake of disability data and evidence currently available in New Zealand.
  3. Analyse the stocktake with respect to the enduring questions to determine gaps or deficiencies in meeting data needs.
  4. Identify and prioritise initiatives to address gaps or deficiencies in meeting data needs.

The stocktake of disability data and evidence held by government agencies and organisations outside government has been completed. The enduring questions are currently being finalised. The gap analysis which maps the enduring questions against available disability data and evidence sources began in October 2016. The final step in the development of the Disability Data and Evidence Plan, the prioritisation of initiatives to address gaps and deficiencies, will be completed in early 2017.

Further information on the Working Group is available on the ODI website.

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