Sibling Navigation

ODI Newsletter - July 2017

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

 In this issue:

Message from the Director

Brian Coffey, Director of ODI
Brian Coffey

In the short time I've been at the Office for Disability Issues, I've taken some time to reflect on all the great work that was done before me, and the challenges that face us in the future.

I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to contribute to the development of the new Disability Strategy as a stakeholder before I even started here. Now in the Director seat I have the opportunity to ensure that the Strategy delivers meaningful changes that can be measured.

The Outcomes Framework will consist of a series of indicators in each of the Outcome areas with corresponding measures that will show the extent to which we have achieved a positive change. We want to be able to find ways to measure the things that really matter to disabled people. Working out how to do this right is very difficult!

To ensure we get these indicators right, we need to invest the time now to engage properly and produce the best possible Outcomes Framework – afterall, this is a 10-year Strategy we are implementing.

Work done through the Disability Data and Evidence Group will contribute to the availability of more meaningful data on disability in the future. We need to explore how this new data could help us measure progress in the different outcome areas. This is all groundwork that needs to be done before we are able to release the Draft Outcomes Framework with indicators for public consultation.

We hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter, which highlights some of the current activities across the disability sector. Among other news, it's great to report that New Zealand is joining The Marrakesh Treaty and that disability is to be captured in general population surveys.

We do love hearing from you. It was good to get some feedback via our small stakeholder survey and to be sharing your stories about your initiatives that align with the new Disability Strategy.

If you're not following us on Facebook yet, please Like our page to receive and share regular news from around the sector.

Finally, if you've got any ideas for a clever, fun name for this imaginatively titled "ODI Newsletter", please let us know via email or Facebook – you'll be rewarded with due credit when we announce the new name.

Kind regards,

Brian Coffey

Outcomes Framework update

Work to develop an Outcomes Framework for the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026 is progressing. The Office for Disability Issues has been working closely with Superu who is providing technical expertise on how to develop effective outcomes frameworks. We have also held initial meetings with some stakeholders, including key government agencies and the New Zealand Disability Strategy Revision Reference Group. These discussions have highlighted how complex this work is, and confirmed that more work is needed to ensure that we get the best possible Draft Outcomes Framework for a meaningful consultation process.

The final Outcomes Framework will include indicators, measures and targets that will demonstrate over time how well New Zealand is progressing towards realising the outcomes of the new Strategy.

To download the Strategy , please visit our ODI website or email us at  

New Zealand to join The Marrakesh Treaty

In June, the Government announced it will join an international treaty - The Marrakesh Treaty - to improve access to written materials for blind and visually impaired New Zealanders.

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled is an international framework that will enable the reproduction and distribution of books and other literary works in accessible formats.

According to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, The Marrakesh Treaty will drive the following benefits.

  • More timely access to a greater variety of accessible format works for New Zealanders with a print disability. This will have a range of positive flow-on effects, improving access to education and employment, lifting overall wellbeing and allowing more opportunities for New Zealanders with a print disability to contribute to the economy.
  • Better value for money from existing resources (including the Ministry of Education, schools, libraries and prescribed bodies) to provide accessible format works for print disabled New Zealanders. Organisations will be able to more easily exchange works across borders, reducing the need for costly local production of works that have been converted into accessible formats in other jurisdictions.
  • Improved adherence to international obligations, including obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC).

Now there will need to be a Parliamentary treaty examination process followed by law changes to ensure the benefits of joining the Treaty can be realised by New Zealanders with a print disability.

The Marrakesh Treaty is one among other changes the Government is working on to allow more organisations and individuals to produce and provide accessible format works without breaching copyright laws.

Further information

Improved data collection about disabled people

Stats NZ is using the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) to report on the employment status of disabled people and non-disabled people.

The Washington Group Short Set of Questions on Disability (WGSS) has been included in the June 2017 quarter of the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), and will be included in each June quarter going forward.

The advantages of using the HLFS will be the availability of more frequent disability data (annual); it will be part of business-as-usual activity rather than relying on a special disability survey.

The WGSS questions are being used in the HLFS as recommended by the Washington Group. The WGSS is a set of six questions designed (for use in censuses and sample-based national surveys that are not disability-specific) to identify individuals who are at greater risk than the general population of experiencing limited social participation because of difficulties undertaking basic daily activities. The questions ask whether people have difficulty walking, seeing, hearing, remembering/concentrating, communicating and with self-care. The WGSS does not include questions on mental health, and they are not intended for use with children.

The WGSS questions used to identify disabled people in the HLFS are different to the 23 questions used in the Disability Survey. In other words, different groups of people can be identified as disabled in both surveys. The Disability Survey was last run in 2013 and is now funded to be run every 10 years.

The WGSS questions are already in the General Social Survey (GSS) for the 2016/17 collection year. The results reporting on wellbeing will be released in July 2017. The WGSS questions will continue to be included in the GSS, which is run every two years.

The WGSS questions have also been tested for inclusion in the 2018 Census. Stats NZ will make a decision shortly.

Further information

Update on New Zealand's next United Nations review

New Zealand's "List of Issues" will not be discussed at the next UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities meeting in August 2017. This means that New Zealand's review of how we're implementing the UNCRPD will begin in 2018. We expect that we will know more after the next Committee meeting in August and will inform you when we know more.

Until then, you may want to start thinking about how, as civil society, you can get the most use out of the review process.

In its review of disabled people-led monitoring, Malatest interviewed the former Chair of the UN Committee and New Zealand Country Rapporteur, who said that, "New Zealand produced a high number of different reports for the Committee in the last reporting round (2014) relative to its size […]". The former Chair suggested, "reducing the number of reports in the UN Committee process could strengthen the influence of the Convention in New Zealand".

Further information

High-level design delivered to transform disability support system

A group, including disabled people, has delivered a high-level design to transform the disability support system.

It was an intense period of work where the co-design group came together across eight workshops, held over 10 days between April and mid-June, to come up with the plan.

Those taking part commented, "speaking from the perspective of a disabled person, the process has allowed us to contribute in a really equal way". While another said, "everybody worked in collaboration and partnership so the power hasn't sat with a single group or a single person".

Ministry of Health's Sacha O'Dea, who is leading the System Transformation team, says the focus now is on the work going forward. This includes the detailed design before it can be implemented in MidCentral and looking at what policy and legislation needs to be changed.

Ms O'Dea says, "there will also be work on supporting and managing the change with different groups including disabled people, whānau, providers, government agencies, NASCs and the community, and how to ensure people can continue to receive their current support during the transition if it meets their needs".

Details of the high-level design will be released on 20 July 2017. It's anticipated the go-live date for rolling out the new system in MidCentral will be 1 July 2018.

Further information

NZSL – Review of Action Plan and development of a Strategic Plan

The New Zealand Sign Language Board is undertaking an annual review of its three-year Action Plan (2016-2018), which outlines the projects being carried out in partnership with agencies and organisations to promote and maintain NZSL.

The Board has been in operation since 2015 and during this time lessons have been learned by its members, and potentially by key government agencies too. The Board wants to ensure that it's working in ways and using the resources it has available (including $1.25 million per annum from the NZSL Fund) as effectively as possible. A review of the Action Plan provides an opportunity for the Board and government agencies to jointly review how they are working together to identify, implement and report on both the Board's and each agency's NZSL strategic priorities.

The Board will also revise the Action Plan into a five-year Strategic Plan to strengthen the Board's ability to undertake comprehensive and rigorous planning, and to ensure that the work is informed by international and local language planning research. The review will include working with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development and the Office for Disability Issues to discuss NZSL planning and reporting processes and reach agreement on the revised Plan. The Board is working towards finalising the Strategic Plan and submitting it to the Minister for Disability Issues for approval in October 2017.

Further information

NZSL – Interpreter Standards Report

One of the activities the NZSL Board is currently focussed on is a review of NZSL interpreter services across New Zealand. The Deaf community and interpreters have for a long time stated that there is a need to set up a national NZSL interpreters' standards system to ensure the Deaf community has access to high-quality NZSL interpreting services. There is also a concern in the Deaf community about a limited supply of NZSL interpreters across New Zealand.

Fitzgerald & Associates were contracted to provide an up-to-date status report on NZSL interpreting in New Zealand, and put forward recommendations on the development of interpreter standards. Sign Language Interpreting Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ) was also contracted as the Lead Partner on this project. SLIANZ worked closely with Fitzgerald & Associates and the Office for Disability Issues, providing subject matter expertise and contributing to the content of the final report.

The report submitted to the Board, provides a wide range of information that needs to be considered when moving to the next stage, that is, the design of a NZSL interpreter standards system in New Zealand.

The NZSL Board is now seeking advice on the design of a NZSL interpreter standards system, including the best way for the system to operate in New Zealand and the cost of establishing and maintaining the system. This advice will be provided through a feasibility study carried out by Fitzgerald & Associates. A feasibility report will be completed by September 2017. The Board will consider this report at its meeting towards the end of September 2017. The Office for Disability Issues will provide further information on the results of this work by the end of 2017.

Further information

Headline results from our Office for Disability Issues Stakeholder Survey

It is always important to understand the views of people who are close to our work. This provides the opportunity to celebrate and strengthen those aspects of our work that are regarded as positive and effective. Of equal importance is understanding where those we work with closely think we can do better or to find out where our role is not fully understood.

The Office for Disability Issues recently ran a Stakeholder Survey. This survey sought stakeholder views on our effectiveness in carrying out our role, level of engagement and methods of communication. We sought views from 93 stakeholders with whom we have regular contact and received a response from 45 people – a 48.4% response rate.

We would like to share the key results from the survey with you – here shown in the Table below.

Table: Key survey results

Survey question% answering "effective" or "very effective"
Please rate our effectiveness at fulfilling our role by providing advice to government agencies on disability issues 73%
Please rate our effectiveness at fulfilling our role by sharing ideas and growing the understanding of issues that are important to disabled people 64%
Please rate our effectiveness at fulfilling our role by helping to facilitate an effective working relationship between the disability sector and government agencies 64%
A recent key work programme for the Office for Disability Issues has been the revision of the New Zealand Disability Strategy. How effective has the Office for Disability Issues been in doing this work? 79%
Overall, how satisfied are you with the methods of communication that the Office for Disability Issues uses? 73%
How useful is the information that you receive from the Office for Disability Issues? 75%
Do you agree or disagree that the Office for Disability Issues positively contributes towards addressing disability issues? 70%
Overall, how satisfied are you with the level of engagement the Office for Disability Issues has had with you? 65%


You also provided a lot of insightful feedback in the comments sections of the survey – these are included in the fuller survey results available on our website.

Thank you very much to those who responded. Your feedback is very valuable in informing the work that we do. The next important step for us will be to think about how we address your feedback in key actions for improvement.

Throughout the year, there are other ways to provide feedback, for example, via email, phone call, our website or Facebook page. We are always open to hearing what you have to say.

Further information

Sharing your stories

It's going to be a little while before we can celebrate progress against the Strategy so, in the meantime, we would like to recognise and give credit to the many inspiring initiatives already going on that are removing barriers for disabled people.

If you have an initiative or a story that incorporates the Strategy's principles, approach or focus on outcomes, we would love to hear from you. Stories can come from agencies, organisations or individuals. Email us at

We're sharing stories on our website and on our Facebook page .

All the stories we have so far are available on our website. In the spotlight this issue is…

Porirua City Council's Playable Porirua project

Child enjoying the swing at Porirua's Victory Park
Child enjoying the swing at Porirua's Victory Park

The vision of Porirua City Council's Playable Porirua Project is to create "a playable city where all children can play together in the region's playgrounds and parks, whatever their abilities or disabilities".

Community groups Plimmerton Rotary and Plimmerton Inner Wheel originally approached the Council with an idea to make one or two of the region's playgrounds more wheelchair-friendly. Coincidentally at about the same time, Otago University researchers asked the Council to carry out an assessment of the region's parks, so the idea grew into a project to review and improve all 41 Porirua playgrounds.

Porirua City Council Parks Manager Olivia Dovey says we've got some fabulous playgrounds in Porirua. "We want everyone to get the enjoyment and health benefits from using our parks and playgrounds, so we're thrilled to be partnering with these groups and organisations to speed up our goal of enabling everyone to access them."

Otago University has designed and piloted a survey tool that Rotary and Inner Wheel members are now using to evaluate Porirua's parks. It's a real community-led initiative.

"The information will be collated and analysed by the University. We'll consult with Porirua residents with disabilities and their caregivers on what needs to be done, and then work with Rotary and the Inner Wheel to fund and implement the necessary improvements," says Ms Dovey.

"It's an ongoing project. The public will start to see results over the next few years, mainly around access pathways and new, accessible pieces of play equipment, but there are likely to be many other small changes too."  

Help us name our newsletter

What's in a name? Well, we think our newsletter needs a better one. "ODI Newsletter" is nice and descriptive but we think it needs something a little more quirky, creative and imaginative. Please share your ideas for a new name on Facebook or email us at  

Tell us what you think

Page last updated: