Disability Action Plan: Including disabled people in the Canterbury recovery (Cabinet paper, July 2011)
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On 18 July 2011, Cabinet:
1. noted that in 12 April 2011, the Ministerial Committee for Disability Issues agreed to refocus the Disability Action Plan on the Canterbury recovery effort for the next eighteen months;
2. noted that there are opportunities to make changes to improve the lives of disabled people within the scope of the Canterbury rebuild and recovery work;
3. noted that government agencies are already working together, and with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), to:
3.1 reconfigure supports and services: so disabled people in Canterbury will have greater flexibility, choice and control over the supports they receive;
3.2 improve the accessibility of the built environment: by actively working to support accessibility for disabled and older people as a key focus for the repair and rebuild of property and infrastructure in Canterbury;
Reconfiguring disability supports and services
4. noted that changes to the way disability supports and services are delivered are already occurring in the response to the earthquake, and we can build on these to make longer term improvements that increase disabled people’s choice and control, increase flexibility of funding and better support disabled people to live the life they want;
5. noted that the work on disability supports and services in Canterbury will include:
5.1 the Ministries of Health and Social Development implementing a demonstration in Canterbury of more individualised supports for disabled people that increase their choice and control over what they do during the day, which is expected to include combining existing funding for most supports for living in the community funded by the Ministry of Health, and community participation funded by the Ministry of Social Development;
5.2 the Ministry of Education developing education social services hubs, based in some schools, where community members can access a range of social services;
5.3 the Ministry of Social Development expanding the use of Community Links in Christchurch to include other agencies’ services;
5.4 all agencies involved in developing the Community Wellbeing Plan in Christchurch sharing information about services and entitlements for disabled people;
6. directed the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Transport, the Accident Compensation Corporation and the Office for Disability Issues to work together to progress the initiatives described in paragraph 5 above and report back on progress, or any further decisions, to portfolio Ministers as required;
7. noted that the Ministries of Education and the Ministry of Social Development are already progressing work under the Disability Action Plan to improve the transitions of disabled students from school into post-school life in Canterbury (the Lead School Transition Service);
Improving the accessibility of the built environment
8. noted that significant improvements will be made to accessibility in Canterbury by applying current regulations to the reconstruction of public buildings, roads and footpaths;
9. noted that Christchurch City Council (City Housing) will apply lifetime design standards to social housing provided by City Housing where practicable;
10. noted that Housing New Zealand Corporation will apply its “new build” design standards to state house rebuilding where practicable;
11. directed the Office for Disability Issues to further publicise the lifetime design standards to support their greater use in the rebuild of Canterbury;
12. noted that the Christchurch City Council is developing a central city recovery plan that offers opportunities to enhance accessibility for disabled people;
Governance, planning and reporting
13. noted that Section 19(2)d of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 states that the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery must have regard to the New Zealand Disability Strategy before approving any Recovery Plans for the Canterbury Earthquake;
14. directed the Ministry of Social Development, as the agency responsible for policy advice to the Minister for Disability Issues, to prepare guidance for agencies doing recovery planning on how the Disability Strategy can be included in the plans, and to report to the Minister for Disability Issues on progress;
15. invited the Minister for Disability Issues, in consultation with the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, to provide a progress report on this work to the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Canterbury Earthquake Recovery (ACE) by February 2012;
16. invited the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery to include how disabled peoples needs have been considered in the Canterbury recovery effort in the report that the Minister will present annually to the House on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011;
17. noted that other work under the Disability Action Plan that is not focussed on Canterbury, and individual agencies’ work to support disabled people, is continuing;
18. invited the Minister for Disability Issues to release the submission attached under ACE (11) 49 to the public to inform them that government intends to ensure that disabled peoples’ needs are met and that disabled people will be engaged in the recovery work in Canterbury.
Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Disability Action Plan: Including disabled people in the Canterbury recovery
1 This report proposes a range of actions to enhance existing activity to ensure the rebuild of Canterbury achieves better accessibility for disabled and older people, a more liveable city for all and more modern, inclusive and self-directed supports and services for disabled people.
2 These actions, if agreed, will be undertaken by the Ministries of Health, Education, Transport and Social Development, the Office for Disability Issues, the Department of Building and Housing, Housing New Zealand Corporation, New Zealand Transport Agency and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).
3 The Canterbury earthquakes are significantly affecting disabled people, who are particularly vulnerable when supports and services break down. In addition, as immediate needs are being met in Canterbury, opportunities are arising to improve disabled peoples’ lives for the medium and longer term. This paper identifies two areas for action:
- redesigning disability supports and services
- improving the accessibility of the built environment.
4 The redesign of supports and services would build on changes to the way agencies operate which have been (and continue to be) made in the immediate response to the earthquakes. A shift towards more flexible, collaborative, responsive and mobile supports and services has occurred, with more sharing of information and resources, and this is consistent with the type of support that disabled people have long advocated.
5 A more accessible and safer built environment will also benefit other groups such as older people, people with temporary injuries or illnesses and those with young children, as well as offering accessible tourism opportunities. Greater accessibility should occur as public buildings, roads and footpaths are rebuilt to comply with current standards which require more accessibility than many older structures had. A prominent focus on accessibility, and vigilance by Government agencies during implementation, is needed to ensure effectiveness.
6 An individual will be identified by the agencies supporting the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues to lead and coordinate this work. This “lead individual” will be based in Christchurch, supported by the agencies involved and funded from the Ministry of Social Development baseline.
7 Progress on these actions will be reported to this Committee by February 2012 and can be included in the report presented annually to the House on the operation and effectiveness of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 by the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.
8 In October 2010, the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues agreed to a Disability Action Plan as a framework for agencies to collaborate to implement the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). New Zealand ratified the UNCRPD in September 2008, and was considered a world leader in its development. To ensure the work had a clear focus, the Disability Action Plan identified three priority areas: supports for living, mobility and access, and jobs.
9 On 12 April 2011, the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues agreed to focus the Disability Action Plan on the Canterbury recovery for the next eighteen months. It directed officials from the Ministry of Social Development to work with officials from the Ministries of Health, Education and Transport and the Department of Building and Housing to consider what this might involve.
10 Since then, Wellington-based officials from these agencies have worked with Christchurch-based officials, including CERA and local bodies, to develop options to build on the changes already made in the short-term response to improve the lives of disabled people in Canterbury in the medium to longer term.
11 There remains work under the Disability Action Plan that is not focussed on Christchurch, and individual agency work to support disabled people, and this continues in parallel. This includes the Ministry of Health demonstration site for a new model of disability supports in the Bay of Plenty, the Ministries of Education and Social Development collaboration to test new ways to fund disabled students’ transition from school to work, and a review of employment services for disabled people as part of the response to the Welfare Working Group.
Impact of the earthquakes on disabled people in Canterbury
12 The Canterbury earthquakes are causing significant disruption to disabled peoples’ services, including damage to residential services, schools, early childhood centres, community supports, employment supports and day activity services. Where services are functioning, disabled people have had increased difficulty accessing them due to the state of the road and transport infrastructure.
13 Before the first earthquake the Canterbury District Health Board estimated that there were around 160,000 disabled people in Canterbury, of whom approximately 58,000 had a disability requiring assistance. 10,762 people in Christchurch receive Invalid’s Benefit.
14 Many disabled people have either been evacuated from residential services or self-evacuated from damaged homes. Of the 293 Ministry of Health disability support service clients evacuated from residential services just 60 were confirmed to return (as at 27 April 2011). As others return, disability supports will need to be re-established for them.
15 The two residential schools in Christchurch returned all students (approximately 100) to their families and the Ministry of Education provided support for them to attend their local schools. Less than half of these students have returned to Christchurch and the Ministry of Education is continuing to support them locally (both in Christchurch and in their home towns).
16 Of the 25 centre-based NGO services that provide day services to disabled people (funded by the Ministries of Health, Social Development and charitable sources) 13 require new and/or temporary buildings. An estimated 2,100 disabled people were receiving centre-based day services funded via the Ministry of Social Development in Christchurch.
17 The Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC) Service, which co-ordinates and allocates Ministry of Health-funded services for 4,508 disabled people in Christchurch cannot use its office and is operating remotely from staff homes.
Why focus on disabled people in Canterbury?
18 There are obvious risks for a vulnerable population in a disaster. Other countries’ experiences have shown that disabled people are more vulnerable to events like earthquakes. However, after immediate needs have been met, the Canterbury earthquake also creates opportunities to improve the lives of disabled people for the medium and longer term.
19 As we rebuild the physical infrastructure it can be made more accessible and safer than it was previously for disabled people and other groups such as older people, people with temporary injuries or illnesses and those with young children. Being more accessible will also make Christchurch a more desirable destination for tourists, particularly for older people.
20 As many disability services have been disrupted, there are opportunities to re-establish Government-funded supports and services in innovative ways to offer disabled people more flexible, person-centred supports and give them greater choice and control over their lives.
21 Some of this work has already begun. The earthquakes have caused government agencies to collaborate more and use resources more innovatively and flexibly. Disabled people have been asking agencies to do this for some time, but change has tended to be incremental and anchored in the existing infrastructure. We can now build on the interim changes we have already made and move in the direction disabled people have been advocating.
Options and opportunities
22 I propose to use the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues to oversee our agencies working together with CERA and the Department of Building and Housing to ensure that, where practical, both the social and physical rebuilds of Canterbury will result in a more liveable city for all and better and more modern supports for disabled people.
23 Opportunities to improve the lives of disabled people in Canterbury for the medium to long term outlined in this paper, cover two broad areas:
- redesigning disability supports and services: Government agencies will build on changes already occurring in Christchurch as a result of the earthquake, to offer disabled people greater choice and control over the supports they receive. This will largely focus on “core” disability services, such as day and community participation services and specialist education, but some of the service collaboration is wider.
- accessibility of the built environment: Agencies will actively work to support accessibility for disabled people in the repair and rebuild of buildings and urban spaces. The Building Act requires any rebuilding or alteration to public buildings to meet current standards, which will significantly improve accessibility. Making private buildings more accessible depends to some extent on insurance companies, who will not fund “betterment” above the insured levels of repairs and replacements.
24 I propose to ask agencies that support the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues to identify and support a “lead individual” based in Christchurch to co-ordinate and lead this work.
Redesigning disability supports and services
25 Agencies have all changed the way they work to respond to the earthquake (eg sharing information and resources, adapting the types of services they offer, etc.). For example:
- the Ministry of Education is providing support services for children who were formerly in residential schools and are now enrolled in their local schools
- the Ministry of Social Development is funding Pact to provide a mobile service that visits disabled people in their homes, instead of providing centre-based activities
- the Christchurch NASC is operating remotely from the homes of its Manager and staff
- Canterbury DHB has set up a vulnerable persons’ team to work across the health sector to support a range of vulnerable people including disabled and older people and people with mental illnesses.
26 Some of these services have started to become more individualised, flexible, mobile and integrated (based in communities rather than in segregated buildings) with more sharing of information and resources across agencies.
27 These innovations reflect the types of service models that disabled people and their families have been advocating for. They want supports that take a “whole of life” approach (not “siloed” across agencies) and are “person-centred” (based around individuals and families needs rather than around buildings or services). Now we can build on the changes already made and trial these more innovative and flexible types of support on a longer term basis.
28 Agencies have worked together both in Wellington and in Christchurch to develop options to build on the changes described above. These options include:
- the Ministries of Health and Social Development will establish new ways to use their (centrally funded) community participation and day service funding, including:
- combining funding to achieve more equitable and consistent allocation
- expanding individualised supports to include funding from community participation, and day services and most other support funded by the Ministry of Health. This would extend the Ministry of Health’s “new model” for supporting disabled people currently operating as a demonstration site in the Bay of Plenty area [CAB Min (10) 23/4A refers], and link to the “day options” project led by a sector group set up by the Office for Disability Issues and supported by both Ministries
- helping providers adopt more flexible ways of supporting disabled people based around the life the person wants to lead, rather than centre-based group activities
- education social service hubs: social services provided from education sites (eg some schools are providing spaces from which other agencies and NGOs could offer services)
- broader use of Community Links and Work and Income site offices: these could provide physical or virtual sites for other services (eg older people and disability services, as the NASC has no current “home”) in response to identified community needs
- cross-agency stakeholder and client communication and information sharing on services (eg: service availability, eligibility criteria) to enable frontline workers to provide advice about services and supports available from other agencies.
29 In addition, the Ministries of Education and Social Development are progressing work under the Disability Action Plan to improve the transitions of disabled students from school into post-school life in Canterbury (the Lead School Transition Service). This service builds capacity in partner schools to provide flexible, planned and supported pathways for students as they leave school. Cabinet recently agreed to different funding and support models being piloted in the Lead School Transition Service [CAB Min (11) 20/6 refers]. Information from this pilot will inform implementation on a wider scale in 2012.
30 The agencies involved in developing these proposals agree they can improve the way services are delivered after the earthquake. However, further work is needed to develop these options into more concrete initiatives, and ensure implementation is carried out as planned.
Improved accessibility of the built environment
31 Canterbury can be rebuilt to be more accessible for disabled people. This would benefit a number of other groups such as older people, people with chronic diseases or temporary impairments and those with small children. Christchurch could develop a reputation as an “accessible” city and benefit from access tourism.
Current building and infrastructure standards
32 Significant improvements will be made “automatically”, as current building requirements are much higher than they were for older buildings. Buildings open to the public must have reasonable and adequate facilities for disabled people to visit, work and carry out normal activities. This applies to both the construction and alteration of buildings.
33 Roads and footpaths will also become easier for people with mobility impairments by applying modern standards. The Local Government Act 1974 section 331 (2) requires that wheelchair-accessible kerb crossings be provided whenever any urban road or footpath is being reconstructed. In pedestrian planning consideration could also be given to the use of the voluntary best practice guidelines for facilities for blind and vision-impaired pedestrians.
Universal design (or lifetime design)
34 We can look beyond compliance with minimum accessibility standards to promote “Universal Design”. This is an international movement (also known in New Zealand as “lifetime design”) which means designing all products, buildings and exterior spaces to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible. Lifetime design makes things more accessible, safer and convenient for everyone.
35 The Department of Building and Housing advises that including many accessibility features (such as lever handles for doors and tapware, location of light switches and socket outlets and providing or reframing wider doorways for subsequent refit) in a new building would cost little more than to build the same structures in a non-accessible way, and would cost considerably less than altering the buildings after they are built.
36 Lifetime design is already used in New Zealand and could be further promoted in Canterbury.
- Social housing is provided by Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) and the Christchurch City Council (City Housing). HNZC’s “new build” design standards contain many lifetime design principles, which are applied to new homes they build. City Housing has a practice of considering disability access and could be encouraged to use lifetime design standards in rebuilding its damaged housing stock. This would increase the availability of accessible housing for disabled people on low incomes in Canterbury.
- Private home owners and builders could be better informed about “lifetime design”. Simple design features such as wider doorways, level entries, adaptable bathrooms and easy to use fixtures and fittings make houses accessible, adaptable and workable for everyone over their lifetime. The Ministry of Social Development is funding Lifetime Design Ltd to promote accessible design standards for new homes [CAB Min (10) 13/4(42) refers], and this information could be made more publicly available electronically and through Lifetime Design Ltd.
37 Most of the organisations involved in the rebuild (including many building industry consultants and developers) are signatories to the Urban Design Protocol. This is a voluntary framework co-ordinated by the Ministry for the Environment to ensure urban design accommodates all citizens and offers opportunities for young and old, low income and disabled people.
Public Transport and Urban design
38 The Christchurch City Council, New Zealand Transport Agency and Environment Canterbury are responding to changing travel patterns since the earthquake (eg congestion relief, new bus routes and timetables and continued introduction of low floor or wheelchair accessible buses).
39 The Christchurch City Council is also responsible for the Central City Recovery Plan, which includes urban design, transport and buildings in the central city. There is scope to enhance accessibility for disabled people through this plan and its implementation.
Governance and planning mechanisms
40 There are a number of governance and planning mechanisms we can use to ensure a strong focus on the needs of disabled people in the Canterbury rebuild, and the involvement and engagement of disabled people and people with disability expertise in the recovery work.
41 Section 19(2)d of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 states that the Minister for Earthquake Recovery must “have regard to” the New Zealand Disability Strategy before approving recovery plans for the Canterbury earthquake. This could be demonstrated by disabled people being consulted on the recovery plans (as appropriate to the subject matter), the plans being in accessible formats, and contributing to relevant objectives of the New Zealand Disability Strategy to meet the needs of disabled people.
42 CERA was established to provide strategic leadership and co-ordinate activities to enable an effective, timely and co-ordinated rebuilding and recovery effort in Canterbury. This includes:
- developing a long term recovery strategy, including a process for consultation
- co-ordinating and prioritising targeted recovery plans
- reviewing and overseeing existing operations on the ground.
43 Input and involvement of disabled people and people with relevant expertise (eg in Universal Design, or in engaging with disabled people) should be part of all aspects of the work. This will occur through:
- government agencies and local bodies each engaging with disabled people as appropriate when developing their recovery plans and strategies using their own in-house disability expertise and links with disabled people. For example, the Christchurch City Council has a Community Development Advisor with a specific role to liaise with disabled people, and a Disability Advisory Group nominated by the disability community
- including disabled people and people with accessibility expertise in the community forum established, by legislation, to provide information or advice to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
- A lead individual, based in Christchurch, will be identified by the government agencies supporting the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues (the Ministries of Social Development, Health, Education, Transport, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Accident Compensation Corporation and the Office for Disability Issues). This person will bring together all the various pieces of work and ensure appropriate input is sought from disabled people in the development of the recovery plans, and other work as appropriate
- The Ministry of Social Development and Office for Disability Issues will provide ongoing advice and support to the Christchurch lead
44 Any costs associated with the appointment of the lead individual will be met from the Ministry of Social Development baseline.
45 I propose that progress on this work be:
- reported to the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues at its regular (six-monthly) meetings for the next 18 months. The next meeting is scheduled for 12 July 2011
- reported back to this committee by the Minister for Disability Issues, in consultation with the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, by February 2012
- included in the report that the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery will present annually to the House on the operation and effectiveness of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011.
46 This paper was prepared using a working group of Christchurch-based staff from the Ministries of Social Development, Education and Transport, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, the Canterbury District Heath Board and the New Zealand Transport Agency led by CERA, and Wellington-based officials from the Ministries of Health, Education and Transport, Accident Compensation Corporation, the Department of Building and Housing and the Office for Disability Issues.
47 All the agencies named above were consulted on draft and final versions of this paper, as were the Treasury, Ministry of Justice, State Services Commission and the Office for Senior Citizens. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet was informed.
48 The proposals in this paper do not seek funding and are not expected to result in future proposals for funding.
49 The proposals will involve trade-offs, and therefore have implications for how existing funding is used. For example, consultation with disability groups will mean less resource for consultation with other groups when the total consultation resource is limited. Increasing the accessibility of housing may use slightly more physical space. However, because the degree of accessibility is not specified (it could be greater or lesser), and agencies will be expected to make these decisions themselves, these costs cannot be quantified here.
50 The Vote agencies involved will continue to make decisions about how much of their baseline funding is allocated to specific actions identified in this paper. The proposal for a lead person to co-ordinate activity to include disabled people in the Canterbury recovery will be met from within the Ministry of Social Development baseline.
Human rights implications
51 The proposals in this paper have no apparent negative implications for consistency with the Bill of Rights Act 1990 or the Human Rights Act 1993. The proposals are likely to have positive human rights implications as they aim to reduce and remove barriers for disabled and older people’s accessibility and mobility in Canterbury, and increase disabled people’s choice and control over the types of disability supports and services they can access.
52 This paper has no legislative implications.
Regulatory impact and compliance cost statement
53 This proposal can be implemented within existing regulatory frameworks.
54 Improving services and support for disabled people will also make a difference for women, as much paid and unpaid care is done by women. Making the physical environment (including public transport) more accessible for disabled people will also benefit people with young children, many of whom are women.
55 The proposals in this paper aim to further progress the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
56 I propose to release this paper to the public, to inform them that government intends to ensure that disabled peoples needs are met and that disabled people will be engaged in the recovery work in Canterbury.
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