Ka whakatairanga mātou i ngā angitūtanga tōkeke mō te hapori whaikaha We promote equal opportunities for the disabled community

One in four New Zealanders has a disability . The Office for Disability Issues (ODI), which is administered by MSD, provides advice across government on disability issues to support the Minister for Disability Issues’ advocacy role for disabled people. Through our Policy team, we provide strategic policy advice on system-level and cross-government issues impacting disabled people.

We work closely with government agencies, the disability sector and organisations to make the best decisions about issues that affect disabled people. We are working towards a vision of New Zealand being a non-disabling society – a place where disabled people have an equal opportunity to achieve their goals and aspirations.

In the past year, ODI’s focus has been on achieving the goals of the New Zealand Disability Strategy by updating the Disability Action Plan. Working with young disabled people has also been a priority. Our policy focus has been on progressing key work programmes to improve outcomes for disabled people.

Leading the Disability Action Plan 2019–2023

ODI led consultation and cross-government engagement with disabled people in developing the Disability Action Plan 2019–2023, which was agreed by Cabinet and launched in November 2019 by the Minister for Disability Issues.

The Disability Action Plan is one of the key mechanisms for implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

Government agencies have committed to implementing 28 work programmes aligned with the eight outcomes in the Disability Strategy.

Developing disability data to inform service development

The New Zealand Disability Strategy and UNCRPD have created a strong mandate to improve the availability of data and evidence on the progress of rights and opportunities for disabled people.  Disabled people have told the Government “if we are not counted, we don’t count”.

There has traditionally been a lack of data to provide evidence of progress on social and wellbeing outcomes for disabled people and to inform policy and service development. When the New Zealand Disability Strategy was developed in 2016, a commitment was made to measure progress against the outcomes in the Strategy. As Statistics NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa and other agencies have developed mechanisms to disaggregate data by disability status, we have a growing set of measures that we can use to report on progress against the outcomes of the Strategy.

We are currently working with disabled people to ensure the measures available are valid measures of progress. We continue to advocate for government agencies to identify how effectively their services and policies work for disabled people through the use of administrative data that can be disaggregated by disability.

Promoting New Zealand Sign Language

ODI provides secretariat and programme support to the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Board . In 2020/21 the Board:

  • allocated community grants for projects to progress the NZSL Strategy
  • invested in developing or strengthening key components for the acquisition, access and use, documentation, and status of NZSL, as well as changing attitudes towards NZSL as a national language of New Zealand
  • scoped a review of the NZSL Act 2006
  • established a mechanism for registration of NZSL interpreters, and development of NZSL interpreting standards
  • worked with the MBIE to establish a new online NZSL interpreter service
  • initiated a five-year Māori Deaf for Māori Deaf work programme.

Supporting Sir Robert Martin’s re-election to the United Nations Disability Committee

In 2020 Sir Robert Martin’s four-year term on the United Nations Disability Committee came to an end.

An international campaign, implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), ODI, and People First New Zealand, resulted in Sir Robert being re-elected, as top candidate, to the Committee for another four years. We continue to provide financial support to enable Sir Robert’s full participation on the Committee.

Sir Robert’s re-election continues his international influence on progressing disability rights and in particular deinstitutionalisation.

Machinery of government for disability system transformation

We continued to support the work led by Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health to transform the disability support system in line with the Enabling Good Lives approach. We are responsible for providing advice on structural arrangements to support the transformed system and options to embed the voices of disabled people to be heard within the system.

Our policy work in 2020/21 focused on possible machinery-of-government options to support a report to Cabinet in September 2021.

Accelerating accessibility for New Zealanders

We continued to progress the design of a legislative framework to accelerate accessibility, working in partnership with the Access Alliance. In 2020, the Minister for Disability Issues asked for a new legislative framework that can act as a vehicle for progressive implementation of accessibility over time. Work has focused on the development and design of the accessibility framework.

The Minister for Disability Issues intends to seek Cabinet agreement in September 2021 to a policy proposal to accelerate accessibility.

Replacing minimum wage exemption permits with a wage supplement

We continued to progress work on replacing minimum wage exemption permits with a government-funded wage supplement. We developed a wage assessment tool for business enterprises to assess wage rates for employees holding minimum wage exemption permits. Following testing, the tool will be used to support introduction of the proposed wage supplement.

Giving disabled people opportunities to participate in employment

Working Matters, the Disability Employment Action Plan, aims to ensure disabled people have the opportunity to participate in employment as they want to, on an equal basis to others.

We released Working Matters in August 2020 , with 22 initial actions identified and under way for completion by 2022. These include extending disability employment services, further developing and expanding integrated health and employment services, and piloting employment services for disabled school students.

We have developed a six-monthly update report to ensure we regularly review the activities and objectives of Working Matters. The first report was released in February 2021.