Section one: Key achievements in 2015

Several achievements in 2015 have continued work towards 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:

Key achievements:

  • implementation of the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018
  • 2015 update to the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018
  • expansion of the Enabling Good Lives approach
  • establishment of the New Zealand Sign Language Board and completion of the first funding round of the New Zealand Sign Language Fund
  • Government response to New Zealand’s first examination on the CRPD
  • establishment of the Disability Data Evidence Working Group
  • start of Project 300 to get disabled people into employment.

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

Implementation of the 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, approved by the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues and then Cabinet in mid-2014, was co-designed by government agencies working together with disabled people, through DPOs. This collaborative way of working is an example of putting Article 4(3) of the CRPD into practice.

In line with the Government’s priority to deliver Better Public Services, the Disability Action Plan prioritises actions that require more than one government agency 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.

Governance of the Disability Action Plan is managed through quarterly joint meetings of the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and DPOs. This joint governance group is responsible for agreeing priorities and actions, and monitoring progress with implementation. Senior officials and DPOs also meet regularly as part of the governance mechanism.

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

2015 update of the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018

The first annual update of the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 (DAP) has been completed and is currently being considered by Cabinet.

The purpose of the annual update is to check with the wider disability community that the DAP’s priorities and actions are still relevant and current to disabled people. Two rounds of public consultation were undertaken, the first round in September 2015 received 35 submissions, and 20 submissions were received during the second round of consultation in October 2015.

To help ensure consistency over the four-year timeframe of the DAP, the vision, person-directed outcomes, and shared results remain the same.

Feedback from public consultation informed discussions by DPOs and government agencies on the proposed changes. The updated DAP has been collectively agreed by DPOs and government agencies.

The agreed changes to the DAP consist of:

  • new actions being added
  • updates to wording of existing actions that have progressed to a new phase of implementation
  • rewording and merging of some existing actions to better clarify the issue needing attention
  • applying consistently the criterion that actions must involve more than one government agency, and therefore removing actions that are single agency-led.

A summary of the consultation feedback and other sources of information that guided the update process are available on the Office for Disability Issues website:

Enabling Good Lives 

Enabling Good Lives is a new way of providing disability support. It aims to give disabled people and their families and whānau greater choice and control over their supports and their everyday lives.

In 2011, an independent group of representatives from the disability sector prepared the first Enabling Good Lives report. It recommended a fundamental shift to the cross-government disability support system. The report also put forward a vision and a set of principles to guide the changes.  

Two demonstrations are underway to test how to put the Enabling Good Lives approach into action. In July 2013, Cabinet agreed to a three-year demonstration in Christchurch. In December 2014, Cabinet agreed to parameters for a further demonstration in Waikato to run between July 2015 and June 2017.

The main components of the demonstrations are:

  • independent facilitation
  • developing a personal plan
  • new assessment and funding processes
  • self-directed budgets, made up from pooled funding from the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Development, which can be used flexibly to purchase supports and services
  • capacity building for families, disabled people and service providers
  • the active involvement of disabled people, their families and organisations, and service providers in the design and evaluation of demonstrations.

During 2015, more disabled people and families have had the opportunity to experience Enabling Good Lives:

  • The Christchurch demonstration has worked with a second group of young people and is now preparing a third cohort of young people for life after school.
  • The Waikato demonstration started working with participants in July 2015.

Christchurch demonstration

The Christchurch demonstration is focusing on school leavers aged 18–21 years old. There are currently 179 participants. Navigators (independent facilitators) have helped them identify their aspirations and goals, and to develop plans to achieve them.

Participants and their families have indicated that the demonstration is giving them more control and helping them to make positive changes in their lives. Many people reported that having choice and independence was the most significant change for them as a result of being part of Enabling Good Lives.

When students leave school between aged 18 and 21 years and engage in the Christchurch demonstration they have access to a portion of funding that would otherwise have gone to their school if they had stayed at school. There are indications that more disabled people are choosing to leave school with their peers.

Some recent individual achievements for participants include entering tertiary education, finding work experience or paid work and starting a business. There are some great videos starring participants and families portraying what a good life means for them at:

The demonstration is supported by a Local Advisory Group (LAG) which includes disabled people, families and whānau, disability sector leaders. A member of the LAG attends a Local Working Group which also includes officials from the Ministries of Social Development, Education and Health, Needs Assessment Service Coordination Organisation and Host Agency.

A second evaluation of the Christchurch demonstration is expected to be released in March 2016. It will provide more information about what is happening in people’s lives as a result of being part of the demonstration.

Waikato demonstration

The Enabling Good Lives demonstration in the Waikato is aiming to work with over 200 disabled people, families and whānau in Waikato by July 2017.

Since it started in July 2015, the demonstration has worked with 61 people. Participants have been drawn from the following groups:

  • people under 65 years old who want more choices about where they live, who they live with and what they do during the day
  • disabled Māori and whānau living in urban or rural areas
  • families with disabled children aged 0 – 18 years old
  • disabled people who with a small amount of assistance can get and retain on-going paid work.

Waikato participants also have access to an independent facilitator, which is called a connector/Tūhono. The Waikato demonstration is trialling a different way of pooling and allocating funding to self-managed budgets.

The Waikato Leadership Group supports the demonstration. The group includes disabled people, family members, providers, local officials and other leaders in the disability sector.

The Waikato demonstration will expand the evidence available on how to apply what has been learned from Enabling Good Lives to the disability support system. An initial evaluation will be completed in February 2016.

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.

In June 2015, Cabinet approved ten founding members of the NZSL Board who represent the diversity of NZSL users.

The NZSL Board is currently developing a three year action plan to progress the five initial priorities for NZSL in collaboration with government agencies, the NZSL community and other key stakeholders. These are:

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

Consultation on the specific areas of focus for each priority was completed in October 2015. The NZSL Board is currently considering the final scope of the action plan and approval will then be sought from the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues.

The first ever funding round for the NZSL Fund was completed in 2015 with 14 projects awarded a total of $899,743. Further information on these projects, and the next funding round is available on the Office for Disability Issues website:

Government response to New Zealand’s first examination on the CRPD 

In September 2014, New Zealand was reviewed for the first time 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.

In June 2015, the Government response to the recommendations from the CRPD Committee was released.

As part of this, the Government also responded to recommendations from the Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) reports from 2012 and 2014. The IMM has a mandate from Cabinet to monitor implementation of the CRPD. It is made up of the Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman and the Convention Coalition Monitoring Group.

Both sets of recommendations acknowledged areas where New Zealand is doing well. This included the development of the Disability Action Plan, involving disabled people in decision making and taking steps to increase employment for disabled people.

While the Government was not formally required to respond to the CRPD Committee until the next review in 2018, consideration of their recommendations, alongside those from the IMM enabled the Government to get a better understanding of key issues facing disabled people and to start some work sooner. It also informed the annual update of the Disability action Plan.

The Government response is available on the Office for Disability Issues website: .

Establishment of the Disability Data Evidence Working Group 

In June 2015, the Disability Data and Evidence Working Group was established as part of the Government response to the CRPD Committee and IMM. It is co-facilitated by Statistics New Zealand and the Office for Disability Issues and includes membership from key government agencies, DPOs, non-government organisations/service providers and universities/research institutes.

The Working Group has identified the need to understand what information is required to inform decision-making on issues that impact on disabled people, what information is already available and what needs to be done to address any gap in information. This is important to improve the everyday lives of disabled people.

The Working Group will be looking at both quantitative and qualitative information, including the lived experience of disabled people themselves.

Further information on the Working Group is available on the Office for Disability Issues website:

Project 300 

Project 300 is a new and exciting initiative that was launched in April 2015 in the Canterbury region. The objective of this employment trial is to assist 300 disabled people and people with health conditions, who are currently on a benefit, into sustainable work over the 12 months to April 2016.

Ideas from employers and service providers informed the development of the trial. Project 300 also aims to ensure that the needs of employers are met as they are critical to providing disabled people an opportunity to get into the workforce.

Project 300 has established a single point of contact for employers to utilise when they employ someone that has been participating in Project 300. This service, through Workbridge, provides support to employers regarding a client’s health condition or disability, and how best to support that person in the workplace.

In September 2015 the region appointed a staff member to provide on-going support to clients once they have entered into employment.

Project 300 has 75 employers involved and has supported 119 individuals into employment or study. This includes 97 individuals into full-time jobs, 13 into part-time jobs and 9 into full-time study.


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