Government delivers transformative changes for disabled people

  • Establishment of a Ministry for Disabled People
  • Implementing the Enabling Good Lives approach to Disability Support Services on a national scale
  • Introduction of The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill – new stand-alone legislation that will make Aotearoa more accessible.
  • Establishment of a new Accessibility Governance Board

“Today the Government is delivering on its promise to reform the disability system,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni has announced.

“The current disability system is broken and puts too many barriers in place for disabled people and whānau. This is why we are establishing a new Ministry for Disabled People as the heart of this change.  It will join up all of the supports and services available to disabled people and replace a fragmented system where there is no single agency responsible for driving improved overall outcomes for disabled people.

“The Government is also accelerating efforts to make Aotearoa New Zealand more accessible by introducing a new accessibility framework, backed by legislation and a new Accessibility Governance Board. The Governance Board will be led by and represent disabled people and whānau.

“The disabled community’s voices will be embedded at all levels of decision-making, from the formation and running of the Ministry, to the development of accessibility legislation,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We know that the Health and Disability review did not go far enough on disability issues, and that’s why Carmel Sepuloni and I commissioned additional work to ensure the aspirations of the disabled community are seriously addressed,” Health Minister Andrew Little said.

“The disabled community told us that disability issues are not just health issues. We’ve heard and responded to their desire to lift disability support out of the health system, which is why we’re establishing a new Ministry for Disabled People to deliver support for all disabled people.”

The Ministry of Social Development will host the new Ministry for Disabled People. This will ensure the new Ministry will have access to existing shared services and knowledge to help it hit the ground running. 

“The establishment of a new Ministry recognises that a broader and ‘whole-of-life’ approach to disability is needed, as opposed to viewing disability as a ‘health issue’,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We have listened to the disabled community and ensured that the mantra of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ sits at the heart of the most transformative changes to the disability system in more than a decade.

The new Ministry will

  • Drive better outcomes for all disabled people
  • Lead and coordinate cross-government strategic disability policy
  • Work to deliver and transform disability support services, and;
  • Progress work on the broader transformation of the wider disability system

“The changes we’re announcing today complement the work under way with the health reforms to ensure all New Zealanders, including the disabled community, have equitable access to the care they need, no matter who they are or where they live,” Andrew Little said.

“Putting the voice of disabled people and their families at the heart of decision making is an approach that works, as we’ve seen with the Enabling Good Lives pilots in Christchurch, Waikato and Mid-Central regions.

“Enabling Good Lives empowers disabled people and their families to have more control and choice about the support they receive and that’s why we’ve committed to the national roll-out of Enabling Good Lives,” Andrew Little said.

“I firmly believe the changes announced today epitomise a bold and truly transformative way forward for disabled people and their whānau to thrive in Aotearoa New Zealand. They send a very clear signal that there needs to be an ongoing commitment over successive Governments in order to sustain better outcomes for disabled people,” Carmel Sepuloni said

“They strike the balance between ensuring the right organisational arrangements are in place to champion change across the system, while also ensuring we’re building on what works through the Enabling Good Lives approach.

“This is the beginning of a true partnership between the disability community and Government,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Click here for the Cabinet papers and documents for proactive release.