Speech on Disability System Transformation and Accessibility

Tēnā tātou katoa

Kua puta ā-kanohi mai,

He taura tangata, he taura kaupapa e hono ana i a tātou katoa i tēnei rā,

Mauri ora ki a tātou katoa!

Greetings everyone,

To our ‘in-person’ attendees,

All here, linked by personal connections, or the connection through today’s event which brings us together today,

May wellbeing be with you all!

It’s a pleasure to be here today for the announcement of the new Ministry for Disabled People.

I would like to acknowledge my colleague Minister Sepuloni, the Enabling Good Lives Governance Groups, the Ministry of Health’s Disability Directorate and Change Management Taskforce, and of course the Ministry of Social Development.

I would also like to acknowledge all the disability groups, disability services providers, needs assessment service agencies and the many dedicated carers who make a big difference to the lives of disabled New Zealanders.

New Ministry for Disabled People

The Ministry for Disabled People is a new approach to how the Government supports disabled people and their whānau.

In the past disability support issues have been treated solely as health issues. We know, and you have told us again, they are not. Disability issues span the full range of social issues that any community faces, and affects one in four New Zealanders.

The disabled community has been calling for change for a long time. We’re proud that this Government is making that change happen.
We are transforming the health sector and we are making sure to have a separate focus dedicated to the disabled community.
Cross-government leadership role

While there’s a lot of work already happening across government, there are barriers in the current disability system that prevent disabled people and whānau being able to live their best lives.

Supports and the wider system are often disconnected and difficult to use. The range of eligibility criteria for different services makes it hard to know which entitlements from which government agency you can access. This new approach will be easier to use and understand.

The new Ministry for Disabled People will provide leadership, have a clear focus, and strengthen your voice.

This is an opportunity to do more in the way government supports disabled people and whānau, beyond just funding disability supports.

This is the next stage in building a social and human rights-based model of disability.

Health system reforms and disability transformation

The Government is aware of the inequities in health and wellbeing outcomes for disabled people.

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

We’ve heard that disabled people want to lift disability support out of the health system, which is why we’re establishing the new Ministry for Disabled People to deliver support.

These changes complement the work underway with the health reforms to ensure all New Zealanders have equitable access to the care they need, when and where they need it, no matter who they are or where they live.

It will be important for the new organisations, Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority to have a strong relationship with the Ministry for Disabled people.

Improving access to quality healthcare, and health outcomes for disabled people, is a priority within the health system reforms.

Under the new legislation, setting up Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority, there will be a requirement to have a

specific strategy for disabled people.
National Implementation of Enabling Good Lives

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.

There has been some really positive feedback.

  • Increased autonomy and social connectedness,
  • an improved quality of life,
  • better access to education and employment opportunities, and;
  • higher engagement and take up of disability services from already marginalised groups like tāngata whaikaha Māori and Pacific.

This is work that has been initiated and led by the disability community,

in partnership with government, and I want to acknowledge those who

have been driving this right from the start.

With that in mind and knowing what can be achieved, we want to build on the success and momentum of the Enabling Good Lives approach.

That’s why today we’ve committed to the national roll out of Enabling Good Lives.

This will fundamentally transform disability support services for at least 43,000 disabled people, their families, communities and carers.

Next steps

The Ministry of Health will continue to have responsibility for improving health outcomes for all New Zealanders, including disabled people.

The future health system, including Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority, will need to work closely with the new Ministry for Disabled People, tāngata Whaikaha Māori, disabled people and whānau to achieve this.

The Ministry is working with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Transition Unit to develop a joint work programme. Regular updates will continue to be provided.  

A key focus will be ensuring disabled people continue to receive funded support during this time.

It’s also important disabled people, their families and whānau are a core part of the new system and their voices are embedded at all levels of decision-making.  This is an important feature of the new system.

We will also continue to partner with disabled people on key decisions as we work through the details of this work.

Closing

Today’s announcement is the next step in transforming our approach to disability support in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We still have plenty to do, but we are committed to making change happen.

I look forward to seeing this transformation unfold, and working with you all to improve the lives of disabled New Zealanders.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa