Disability Action Plan 2014-2018: Questions and answers
- The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues approved the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 at its meeting on 8 April 2014.
- For the first time, a collaborative approach was used to develop the new plan that involved government agencies working closely with representative organisations of disabled people (known as Disabled People’s Organisations or DPOs) over a six month period. As a result, the new plan looks and feels very different to previous plans.
- The Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 prioritises actions that require government agencies to work together. This approach complements disability-related work by individual agencies in their own areas of responsibility.
- Priority actions will be developed and implemented in collaboration between government agencies, DPOs, and other disability sector experts.
- The Office for Disability Issues will lead coordination and monitoring of the Disability Action Plan and promote government agencies collaborating with DPOs into the future.
- Progress will be overseen and monitored by a new governance arrangement consisting of quarterly meetings of the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and DPOs’ representatives.
- Updates on progress will be released publically at least annually in the Minister for Disability Issues’ annual report to Parliament.
- The Office for Disability Issues will develop indicators with DPOs to monitor implementation in the longer term.
Questions and answers
What is the Disability Action Plan?
The Ministerial Committee’s priorities are set out in the Disability Action Plan. It emphasises areas that require government agencies to work together and share responsibility for achieving a common result. This approach complements work by individual agencies in their areas of responsibility. It is also informed by experience of the Better Public Services’ focus on shared results and collaboration across sectors.
A collaborative, cross-government approach to action on disability issues is necessary because many of the barriers that disabled people experience to participation and contribution in society lie across several agencies’ responsibilities.
What is the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues?
While both the New Zealand Disability Strategy (since 2001) and more recently the CRPD (since 2008) have provided a framework for thinking and acting on disability issues, a lack of sustained progress in removing barriers experienced by disabled people led to the identification of a gap in leadership at the highest level of Government.
In 2009, the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues was established by Cabinet to provide leadership, accountability, and coordination across government on disability issues.
The Ministerial Committee is mandated to set priorities for implementation of the CRPD and the New Zealand Disability Strategy and hold government agencies to account for progress. Its membership consists of Ministers from a range of portfolios that have the most impact on disabled people’s lives. The Minister for Disability Issues, who chairs the Ministerial Committee, reports to Parliament annually on progress with implementation.
Who are the members of the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues?
Current membership of the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues is: Minister for Disability Issues (Hon Turia), Minister of Health (Hon Ryall), Minister of Education (Hon Parata), Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (Hon Joyce), Minister for Social Development (Hon Bennett), Minister for ACC (Hon Collins), Minister of Justice (Hon Collins), Minister of Housing (Hon Smith), Associate Minister of Transport (Hon Woodhouse), Minister for Senior Citizens (Hon Goodhew)
What is included in the new Disability Action Plan?
The Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 prioritises actions that require government agencies to work together. It has a refreshed strategic direction that is centred on what disabled people say matters the most to them. This approach complements disability-related work led by individual agencies in their own areas of responsibility.
The four year timeframe of the new plan is another point of difference from the one or two year timeframes of previous plans. The longer timeframe provides greater certainty as to where the Ministerial Committee expects to see progress happening and enables better resource prioritisation for actions. The plan’s shared vision is for disabled people to experience equal rights of citizenship. Supporting this vision are five person-directed outcomes that have been developed to focus activity on making a positive difference in disabled people’s everyday lives.
In line with the Better Public Services model, there are four shared result areas that prioritise action by government agencies, Disabled People’s Organisations, and others. These shared results are:
- increase employment and economic opportunities
- ensure personal safety
- transform the disability support system
- promote access in the community.
Initial actions have been agreed under each shared result area for implementation over the next year. Some actions are already underway, while new actions should commence from July 2014. Actions will be monitored quarterly and reviewed annually in combined meetings of the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and Disabled People’s Organisations.
What are Disabled People’s Organisations?
Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) are defined as organisations that:
- are governed and led by disabled people
- focus on representing the lived experience of disability in one or more impairment areas
- have members who are disabled people.
DPOs contrast with other organisations in the disability sector which predominantly provide disability-specific services and/or are led by non-disabled people.
There are seven DPOs that collaborated with government agencies in the development of the Disability Action Plan: Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand; People First New Zealand; Deaf Aotearoa; Blind Citizens New Zealand; Balance NZ; Deafblind New Zealand; and Ngati Kāpo.
Why did government agencies collaborate with DPOs to develop the Disability Action Plan?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ Article 4(3) obliges States to ensure that the authentic voice of disabled people can be present alongside government agencies developing legislation, policy and services impacting on disabled people. This is achieved through involving DPOs.
This obligation to involve DPOs does not exclude any other organisation from being involved based on their expertise, so long as DPOs always have the opportunity to participate. This obligation acknowledges the long history of exclusion and invisibility of disabled people from government policy development and other matters impacting on them.
The collaborative, codesign process allowed DPOs to be involved in setting priorities alongside government agencies in the Disability Action Plan. This involvement achieved two things:
- ensuring what is progressed reflects the current experience of disabled people
enabling DPOs to appreciate the constraint on resources across the Public Service, which requires ongoing priority setting and demonstrating value for money in everything agencies do.
How will progress with implementing the Disability Action Plan be measured and monitored?
The governance arrangement
A new feature of the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 is a joint DPOs and Chief Executives’ Group governance arrangement to oversee implementation.
The DPOs and Chief Executives’ Group will meet quarterly to:
- review progress with implementation
provide feedback on the working relationship between DPOs and government agencies.
The implementation support arrangement
In addition, working groups are proposed for each shared result to support an ongoing collaborative approach. These will meet regularly, as needed, to:
- maintain relationships between government agencies, DPOs, and others that are relevant to each shared result area
- build a shared understanding amongst all involved
- allow for discussion of emerging issues
- provide a space for considering new or different actions.
The Office for Disability Issues will facilitate and support the governance arrangement and working groups.
Progress with implementation of the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 will be included in the Minister for Disability Issues’ annual report to Parliament.
Progress on previous plans have been published in the Minister’s annual reports, which can be read online at: http://www.odi.govt.nz/nzds/progress-reports/index.html
How will the Disability Action Plan arrangements influence what government agencies implement?
The Disability Action Plan arrangements will:
- encourage and provide for the involvement of DPOs and other with expertise in a particular area
- add value by acting as a check on the consistency of actions with what the CRPD says should happen and the new way of working more closely with DPOs
- help promote consistency in the approach by government agencies to implementing the Convention by bringing government agencies, DPOs and others together to build relationships and shared understandings.
Where government agencies are leading actions, they will continue to be accountable to the normal processes of government, that is through the agency’s management and then to the responsible Minister.
The Disability Action Plan arrangements provide an extra checking process, with the ability to provide different advice if inconsistencies are identified with what a lead agency is doing.
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