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ODI Newsletter - May 2018

Bringing you news from the Office for Disability Issues and around the disability sector

Minister's welcome
Update on the UN Review of NZ’s disability rights
Update on the NZ Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework
MidCentral roll-out of disability support system transformation
NZSL Week and Awards 2018
Update on NZSL Board member appointment process
NZ artist Yaniv Janson to exhibit at the UN in June

Minister’s welcome 

Minister Carmel Sepuloni
Honorable Carmel Sepuloni

It’s been six months since I became the Minister for Disability Issues and contributed to my last ODI newsletter. It has been a very busy time indeed. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you, to listen and understand more about the issues facing disabled people.

 In March, we received our “List of Issues” from the UN with 100 questions to assess how we’re doing on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I have welcomed the CRPD Review as a valuable opportunity to gain external feedback, make international comparisons and to seek feedback from our disability community, through public consultation on our response to the Committee later this year (more on this below).

Our Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) contributed to the UN’s List of Issues by highlighting six key areas that they consider to be the most pressing for disabled people in New Zealand right now. It’s a priority for me to advocate for real progress in these six areas, which are:
• Data
• Education
• Employment
• Seclusion and Restraint
• Access to information and communication
• Housing.

These six key areas will lay the groundwork for the updated Disability Action Plan. This will be released next year as a four-year plan for implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy. The updated Plan will set out the key actions that government will take to continue improving the lives of disabled people, and include incomplete actions from the current 2014–2018 plan as well as some new ideas. 

The recent announcement that the transformation of the Disability Support System will roll-out in the mid-central region from 1 October 2018 has been met with a lot of excitement, as well as a lot of questions. This is a huge programme of work, co-designed with disabled people, with a ’try, learn and adjust’ approach. We will look very closely at its evaluation before announcing the shape and form of further roll-outs in other regions (more on this below).

On New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week and the Awards (more on this below), that has just been. I have been encouraged and inspired by the great work and passion of the winners, attendees and organisers at the Awards, and of many people throughout the week. I realise we have a long way to go in elevating NZSL to the status it deserves, as an official language of New Zealand.

As Minister for Disability Issues I will do everything I can to influence and support improvements in the accessibility of information coming from government. Our Prime Minister has led the way by ensuring that there will be sign language interpreters at all post-Cabinet media briefings. The recent introduction of NZSL at Parliamentary question time is another welcome move towards greater accessibility and inclusion. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at ODI for the work they are doing. The passion and commitment you have for addressing disability issues in New Zealand is clear in the work you do, and it’s great to know I have such a hard working team supporting me. I would also like to acknowledge everyone who is working in the disability sector. Working together, we are making great strides toward a more inclusive and accessible New Zealand and I thank you for your ongoing hard work and dedication. 

Best wishes

Hon Carmel Sepuloni

Update on UN Review on NZ’s disability rights

In March, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities released its ‘List of Issues’ for New Zealand. The ‘List of Issues’ has 100 questions about the New Zealand Government’s progress on implementing the Disability Convention. The questions cover a range of issues important to disabled people, including education, employment, health, housing, justice and access.

The Government must now answer the Disability Committee’s List of Issues in a ‘State Party Report’. This is due to the Disability Committee in March 2019.

ODI is currently working with all the relevant government agencies to gather information for the State Party Report, which, once approved by Ministers, will be released for public feedback. This will occur over August to October 2018. It is an important and valuable part of the process as it will give everyone an opportunity to provide feedback on the government's response.

In parallel, the Independent Monitoring Mechanism (or IMM, as it is known) is developing a ‘Making Disability Rights Real Report for 2018’ which will also function as a shadow report to the Disability Committee.

The IMM is a mechanism set up to monitor the government’s progress on implementing the Disability Convention. It is made up of the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) Coalition.

The IMM is independent of the government, and the IMM will be consulting on its report mid-to-late 2018.

The Disability Review is a robust, two-year process that ends in a face-to-face meeting with the Disability Committee in Geneva in late 2019, where the NZ government is examined on its State Party Report. The Disability Committee will then release its ‘Concluding Observations’. These say what's going well and give recommendations of what we need to work on for the future.

More information about the process.

Update on the NZ Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework 

Disability Strategy Revision Reference Group
Disability Strategy Revision Reference Group

ODI recently hosted the last meeting of the Disability Strategy Revision Reference Group meeting, which involved finalising their input into the set of draft indicators for the Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework.

We would like to take this opportunity to formally thank and acknowledge the Reference Group members for their input over the past two and a quarter years. The robust debate this group brought to each phase of the process resulted in a revised NZ Disability Strategy. that we can be proud of. The Strategy reflects the voices of disabled people and resonates with all New Zealanders. The group has also provided us with a set of draft indicators that reflect what disabled people think are the important indicators to measure.

The next phase in the development of the Outcomes Framework will involve technical input to come up with the set of measures that will demonstrate whether progress is being made against the indicators, and provide accountability against implementing the Strategy outcomes. Following this stage, options for data collection will be investigated.

MidCentral roll-out of disability support system transformation

There is excitement that the Government has given the go-ahead to trial the new disability support system which will be launched on 1 October 2018, initially in MidCentral.

MidCentral includes Palmerston North, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Ōtaki and Tararua districts.

The funding of $23.842 million over two years is to implement the new system and to continue the demonstrations in Christchurch and Waikato.  You can find out more about its key features here .

There will be a try, learn and adjust approach when the new system is up and running. Feedback from disabled people and whānau will help improve and finalise the system before it is rolled out across New Zealand. Decisions on the final model and expansion will be sought from Cabinet in 2020.

For disabled people and whānau in MidCentral, whatever support they are getting on 30 September 2018, they will continue to have on 1 October 2018. There will be no change until either they contact somebody in the new system, ie a Connector or disability information specialist, or disabled people and whānau are contacted on their regular review date.

There is still a lot to do before the new system is launched. There is work on market shaping, brand and identity, tax treatment, early intervention, monitoring and evaluation, and developing funding allocation, process and tools. The first phase of information on funding allocation is out for virtual testing and if you would like to participate, please contact us at

More information about the disability support system transformation

NZSL Week and Awards 2018

NZSL Week logo and photo with child
NZSL Week 2018

NZSL Week 2018 appeared to be successful in getting the message out that ‘NZSL is for Everyone’. Many high-profile people and organisations took up Deaf Aotearoa’s Leaders’ Challenge to learn some NZSL. There were videos circulating on social media of our Prime Minister and the Minister for Disability Issues signing messages of support for NZSL.

There was strong uptake of the free NZSL taster classes offered to businesses, organisations and individuals throughout the week, and the TV commercial with the NZSL flashmob with Tiki Taane would have reached thousands of viewers at home.

More info on NZSL Week activities

The NZSL Awards, which marked the end of NZSL Week, were attended by the Minister for Disability Issues and other key people, organisations and businesses committed to the promotion of NZSL and Deaf culture. The Awards gave recognition to, and celebrated, the standout achievements in promoting the uptake and use of NZSL and meeting the language needs of the Deaf community. Congratulations to the winners, and all those who were nominated.

Read or view NZSL video of Minister’s media release congratulating NZSL Award winners

Update on NZSL Board member appointment process

Applications for NZSL Board appointments closed mid-May. Thank you to all those who applied for five of the positions available.

The next step is for the NZSL Board selection panel to evaluate the applications against the skills and attributes required of members, and to consider the diverse representation needed across the Board. The selection panel will make recommendations on who to appoint and the Minister for Disability Issues will make the final decisions. News of the new appointments will be announced on the NZSL Board website in early August.

For more information, email

NZ artist Yaniv Janson to exhibit at the UN in June

Artist Yaniv Janson at work
Artisit Yaniv Janson will exhibit at the UN Headquarters in June

Raglan-based artist Yaniv Janson will hold a ten-piece exhibition, Please Do Touch, in New York, 11-14 June, during the UN's annual meeting for the rights of people with disabilities.

Yaniv brings a unique perspective to art; he says, "I come up with my own ideas and I feel like I'm different from other artists, I can be myself through art".

While the Raglan environment might well be seen to be the inspiration for Yaniv’s work, it is global issues that motivate him. The art is a unique expression of Yaniv, a young man committed to the sustainable development goals of the UN. 

With its colour, texture and form, Yaniv’s art invites people to experience it through a variety of senses and see the world through his eyes. It seeks people to understand, and strive for a better, fairer and more sustainable world.

Yaniv has epilepsy and autism; yet these have been no barrier to him achieving artistic recognition on the world stage and his dream of exhibiting at the UN headquarters.

Through his art Yaniv is seeking to encourage people to imagine, and contribute to, a world that is inclusive and fair – where all people can participate and work together to create a world that is good for all now and in the future.

Thank you to all those who have made this exhibition a reality – the United Nations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for funding Yaniv’s travel, all those who have taken the time to enjoy Yaniv’s art and, of course, thank you Yaniv for your skill and passion.

We wish Yaniv all the best for his upcoming exhibition. Please share with anyone you know going to New York in June, as this Please Do Touch exhibition is not to be missed!

Follow Yaniv on Facebook  or visit to find out more.


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