ODI is getting a new home

The Office for Disability Issues will be moving from the Ministry of Social Development to the new Ministry for Disabled People.

This decision has been made by Cabinet. Integrating ODI into the new Ministry will help support the new Ministry’s cross-government leadership role. Staff and roles within the Office will not be changing.

The following is a summary of the reasons why Cabinet has made this decision:

ODI was established in 2002 to provide departmental functions and services directly to the Minister for Disability Issues from a dedicated unit within the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Its intended functions included acting as the lead agency for the Disability Strategy, providing policy advice on disability issues including being the lead agency for strategic and cross-sectoral disability policy, and ministerial servicing.

The intention for ODI to provide advice on cross-sectoral disability policy issues has never been fully realised, though the Office has led significant work in redeveloping the Disability Strategy and provides second opinion advice on a range of government work from a disability perspective. However, ODI has picked up a range of other functions over time. It has become the government’s focal point for the UNCRPD, including providing support for DPOs and coordinating government’s input into the Treaty examination process. ODI also administers the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006, provides secretariat support for the New Zealand Sign Language Board, maintains a disabled persons nomination database, and has recently published a Disability Toolkit for Policy.

ODI’s functions, especially those relating to the Disability Strategy, advice on disability issues, the UNCRPD, partnership with DPOs and capacity and capability are a good fit for the intended role of the new Ministry. Bringing ODI into the new Ministry will:

  • ensure that there is a single point in government responsible for advising on cross-government disability strategy
  • provide a greater profile and, ideally, resourcing for the current ODI functions
  • minimise confusion in government and with the public over the respective roles of the Office and new Ministry
  • ensure the new Ministry starts out with a cohort of staff (many of whom are disabled people) with experience working within government from a disability rights-based perspective and strong relationships with the disability community.
  • Officials have received resounding support from both community groups and government agencies during consultation on the recommendation to bring ODI into the new Ministry.

ODI’s work will be strengthened by the continued role of external parties such as the Disability Rights Commissioner, and by a greater emphasis for the Ministry as a whole on promoting and listening to the voices of disabled people.

There’s still more work to be done on how we will fit into the new Ministry, but we’re up for the challenge.

If you are interested in learning more, you can find a copy of the Cabinet paper, including alternate formats here: https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/information-releases/cabinet-papers/2022/disability-system-transformation.html

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