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ODI Newsletter 31 March 2017

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Message from the Director

Kia ora koutou,

I’ve now had about five weeks acting as Director in the Office for Disability Issues (ODI). My interactions and observation during this time have reinforced my impressions prior to taking up this role, that the work of ODI is important and valued.

The update of the New Zealand Disability Strategy (2016-2026) and the development of the Outcomes Framework make 2017 an important year for anyone with an interest in the work of ODI. The Outcomes Framework links the Disability Strategy’s vision, of achieving a non-disabling New Zealand, to commitment, accountability and action. We will continue to keep the disability sector informed of progress on its development.

All this occurs within the context of Minister Wagner’s important next steps in transforming the disability support system. The Minister’s next Disability Forum will focus on how this transformation will incorporate the Enabling Good Lives principles.

It’s important to acknowledge that making the Disability Strategy a reality does not have to wait until we have established the Outcomes Framework. No agency, organisation or person who can make a positive difference, should wait for permission to take positive action. While the Disability Strategy challenges us to do better to achieve change, we need to continue to recognise current initiatives that are working and effective.

ODI has an important role to play in raising and promoting the awareness of the collective effort of those working for a non-disabling New Zealand. Working with others, in particular, listening and acting on the views of disabled people, which has been so important in the development of the Disability Strategy, will be vital in working towards achieving the Strategy’s vision.

Kind regards,

Brian Coffey

Minister Wagner’s Disability Forum - 6 April 2017

Minister Wagner will be hosting a second Disability Forum from 10.00 am – 12.00 pm on 6 April 2017, at the Ministry of Social Development, Aurora Centre, 56 The Terrace, Wellington.

This forum will focus on the transformation of the disability support system and how it will incorporate the Enabling Good Lives principles. This is an opportunity to ask any burning questions you have about the transformation.

The first half hour will provide an opportunity to network with Minister Wagner over morning tea. Minister Wagner will then speak about the transformation of the disability support system, followed by Sacha O’Dea, Programme Lead for System Transformation, Ministry of Health.

A panel discussion will follow. The panel will include Mark Benjamin, Anne Wilkinson and Jade Farrar from the National Enabling Good Lives Leadership Group, and Toni Atkinson and Sacha O’Dea from the Ministry of Health. Officials from the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Education will also be present and available to respond to questions.

Please send any questions you have about the forum topic to by 30 March 2017. This will then provide the opportunity to guide information to be provided in the presentations and/or allow the opportunity for prepare responses to questions through the answer panels and discussions with officials who are present at the forum. If it is not possible to answer all questions at the forum we will use email to ensure your questions are answered.

If you would like to attend the Forum, please RSVP to for catering purposes and include Disability Forum in the subject field.

New Zealander on UN committee

Robert Martin, an expert on disability issues, was elected to the UN CRPD Committee in June last year. He is the first person with a learning disability to be elected to the Committee and recently attended his first meeting in Geneva.

Robert attending the Committee meeting
Robert's election to the Committee

Robert will be working as an independent expert to monitor countries and their implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

You may have missed the media release made by Minister Wagner in recognition of Robert’s membership of the UN CRPD Committee.  Minister Wagner wrote: “Robert, having grown up in an institution, will be a unique voice at the table. His personal experiences and passion will go a long way toward promoting positive change for disabled people.  Even before arriving in Geneva, Robert’s having a positive impact. He’s helped broaden the UN’s thinking about ‘reasonable accommodations’,” explains Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner.

Reasonable accommodations support a disabled person to participate on an equal basis, and can include things like allowing more time to look over material or providing a support person.

“Ensuring reasonable accommodations are available at the UN will open the door for other disabled people to represent and be represented within the organisation. This is another move toward achieving a non-disabling society — one where disabled people can have the support they need to live a good life in their workplace, home and community,” Ms Wagner says.  

Disability Strategy update

We are continuing to share the Strategy with our key stakeholders as we carry on with the development of the Outcomes Framework.  A second print run of the strategy booklet has just arrived so you can email us at if you would like copies, or alternatively download a copy from our website. The Strategy is available in accessible formats including standard and large print, EasyRead, audio, NZSL, and Braille on request.

Go to the Office for Disability Issues website to download a copy of the new Disability Strategy

Key dates for 2017 include:

  • consultation on a draft Outcomes Framework (August 2017)
  • release of the Outcomes Framework (November/December 2017).

The Global Network of Indigenous People with Disabilities

Attendees enjoying lunch
Attendees enjoying lunch

A gathering of representatives of the First Peoples Disability Network (Australia), Kāpo Māori Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the First Nations Peoples of Turtle Island (Canada) was held in Wellington earlier in March 2017. The purpose of the gathering was to continue with the establishment of a Global Network of Indigenous Peoples with Disabilities.  It was an opportunity to come together to discuss issues of mutual interest, celebrate cultures and differences, learn from diversity, agree to a vision, and discuss strategic priorities for the network.

Growing network opportunities, developing an action plan, and setting priorities were some of the key outcomes of the gathering.

ODI Acting Director, Brian Coffey attended one day of the three day gathering. Visit for more information. 

Disability and housing conditions

Disability and housing conditions are the focus of the latest release from Statistics New Zealand out of the 2013 Disability Survey. The research article on 'Disability and Housing Conditions' provides information on the quality of housing where disabled people in New Zealand live.

Currently, there are a number of government initiatives to support the housing needs of disabled people, including:

  • The availability of additional funding through the Ministry of Social Development’s Disability Allowance for additional electricity, gas or heating costs that a person has due to their disability.
  • Disabled people may also be eligible for assistance with funding for housing modifications to improve the access in and around their home through the Ministry of Health. Find out what assistance you can get from the Ministry of Health .
  • The availability of funding to subsidise insulation for a home to rental property owners whose tenants have a Community Service Card or have been refereed by the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Homes programme. Find out more about funding for insulation from the EECA energywise website .

Have you used the Video Interpreting Service (VIS) yet?

Easily make phone calls or have in-person meetings using New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) with the Video Interpreting Service (VIS). People who use NZSL and those who speak English can communicate freely. NZSL users can even use it when travelling overseas. These services are for everyone: Deaf, hearing impaired, or speech impaired and hearing New Zealanders.

Find out more from the New Zealand Video Interpreting Services website  

Learn more about Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui and the Disabled Persons Assembly have worked together to develop an education programme on human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The free two-day programme is available to disabled people and disability support services. Separate programmes are run for each group.

This programme, Kia Noho Rangatira Ai Tātou, places the Convention in the unique human rights and cultural context of Aotearoa.  It helps build the knowledge we all need to ensure disabled people’s rights are upheld in New Zealand.

Developed and delivered by disabled people, the programme has been demonstrated to significantly increase participants’ knowledge of the Convention and how to apply it in work practice and everyday life.  It is described by learners as “fun and interactive” and “valuable and well thought through”.

Register for the Auckland DSS Kia Noho Rangatira Ai Tatou event

Find out more about Kia Noho Rangatira Ai Tātou

Public consultation - draft report on UN economic, social and cultural rights

Feedback is being sought on the latest report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The report responds to a specific list of issues the Committee requested information on, and outlines how the Government is tackling issues such as reducing family and sexual violence, improving health and education outcomes for Maori and Pasifika children and low income families, prohibiting unfair employment practices, and addressing child poverty.

Your feedback will help ensure the report is clear and accurate, and identify other information related to the specific issues raised by the Committee that should be included. 

Provide your views on the Ministry of Justice consultation hub website

Download a copy of the full draft report  


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