Disability support issues are not solely health issues

11 June 2021

Alison Riseborough, who represents MDANZ on the Disabled People’s Organisations Coalition, provides an update on the latest issues.

Last year the Health and Disability System Review report recommended that responsibility for Disability Support Services (DSS) should transfer from the Ministry of Health to District Health Boards (DHBs).

There was strong feedback from Disabled People’s Organisations against this recommendation, which has now been rejected by the Government.

In April, the Minister of Health, Andrew Little announced major changes to the structure of the health system. He said he had heard the criticism that the Health and Disability System Review did not adequately address the concerns and needs of disabled people.

“We understand the difficulties in having disability support issues treated solely as health issues. They are not. Disability issues span the full range of social issues that any community faces,” he said in a speech delivered on April 21. 

The Government has commissioned further work on the future of DSS.

The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Development will provide advice on the future of DSS later this year.

That advice will follow further work with the disabled community based on the principles of Enabling Good Lives and advice developed as part of the machinery of government review of DSS.

Minister for Disability Issues

DPO Coalition representatives met with Minister Carmel Sepuloni in March. They discussed the need for clarity on access to Covid-19 vaccines; the need for a clear implementation plan for Mental Health (He Ara Oranga); and how to engage directly with the Health Reforms Transition Unit.

The Government has acknowledged that earlier engagement was poor in both the Mental Health Review and the Health and Disability System Review.

Health Reforms Transition Unit

In May the DPO Coalition began meeting with the Transition Unit responsible for implementing the health reforms.

The first workshop aimed to recap and share disabled people’s experiences of access to health services. This included some initial findings on health access from the Health and Wellbeing Report being developed for the DPO Coalition by the Donald Beasley Institute.

Accessibility Legislation
The DPO Coalition is continuing regular engagement with the Ministry of Social Development policy team which is developing options for Accessibility Legislation.

Advice on the options will go to Cabinet later this year. This work has the potential to set down requirements for what all parts of New Zealand society, business and Government must do to deliver accessibility for disabled people on an equal basis with others.


You can contact Alison at [email protected]

This article was originally published in the Winter 2021 edition of In Touch magazine.

For more information please contact: 
Melanie Louden 
Communications and Marketing Advisor 
Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand 
027 509 8774 
[email protected]