Auckland Regional News Update-December 2020

Welcome to the December 2020 NZDSN Auckland regional news update

No doubt 2020 will be a year for the history books. We have all been challenged this year but as with every struggle, some amazing growth can come out of it and next to all the challenges, positive growth has definitely taken place in the wider Auckland Disability Community.

In the last few months many of our member organisations have focused on the learned lessons from the COVID lockdown periods and what needs to be improved. I would like to end this year on a positive note by reflecting on all the wins and achievements that I have come across in my role as the NZDSN Auckland Executive facilitator over the past 12 months.

In this update I would also like to mention some of the new promising events that are lined up for 2021.

Highlights of 2020

  • The Small, ‘Boutique’ providers network initiated 2 substantial face to face meetings with key government stakeholders on the 5th of February and the 29th July. The aim of these meetings was to build a relationship of trust with decision makers from MOH, MSD, Taikura Trust. In the meetings a start was made to share the stories of providers and to raise concerns and issues they would like to see resolved. They offered a partnership with the government agencies, where their knowledge and expertise will be taken into account when we try to work together towards a more person directed, accessible, flexible, transparent, cultural aware, disability support system. People left both meetings in high spirits and some little wins have come out of it already, but it’s obvious that the real change still needs to happen. This network is still very committed to continue the conversation with government agencies in 2021.  Next meeting is lined up for the 4th of February 10am-12pm at East Gate Trust, Pakuranga. If you are a small/ medium sized provider you can click here to connect to their Small providers facebook page.
  • In 2020 the network also managed to take part in a collective training opportunity, the BILD behavioural support practioners programme generously offered by Explore. After having to postpone the date three times due to the COVID lockdown restrictions, we finally managed to go ahead with the training on the 19 & 20th of November. The feedback from the people who took part in this training has been extremely positive. A BIG thank you to Liz Wilson and Nigel Colless from Explore for their persistence around organising the training andmaking this collective training opportunity available for the small providers network.
  • Collaboration Taikura Trust & NZDSN & Auckland DSS providers. One of the big positive growth areas that came out of COVID 19, were the initiated frequent zoom meetings for DSS providers, hosted by Taikura Trust & NZDSN to respond to the urgent lockdown issues. To prevent overlap of content Taikura and NZDSN soon put their heads together and this has led to a new strong collaboration space. In the new year the Taikura led Zoom meetings will still continue and NZSDN will make sure we will have a representative at all of these zoom meetings.The COVID response by TAIKURA & NZDSN with DSS providers in Auckland resulted in a Post Pandemic working group that put together:
  1. the SOAR document (Strengths, Opportunities, Achievements & Results) to create awareness around learnings from COVID. This document has since been shared with government agencies to advocate for more lasting change and a more flexible disability Support System
  2. Pandemic/Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which will be soon ready to be shared
  • Within the Post Pandemic working Group a Special Interest Communication Providers group has been established to deal with identified gaps in the communication during the lockdown levels. Another initiative that we are currently working on in collaboration with FirstPort, is the creation of a Providers Hub where relevant documents and resources can be shared easily and fast on a website both in times of emergencies as well as during times of Business as Usual, (BAU). This will enable providers to share and easily access disability providers resources and prevent many organisations having to re-invent the wheel. We are currently still in the test phase but hope to get the website live and ready to access by all providers in the not too far future.
  • For NZDSN the regional zoom meetings were initiated all over NZ and at this stage all hosts of the regional meetings still meet monthly for a groups host zoom meeting. This to share feedback between the different regional networks. This meant and still means NZDSN is able to hear the voice of over 100 providers during a period of crisis but also stay in touch with a large group of our members in a very efficient way. This allows us to be very responsive to urgent needs and to circulate valuable existing knowledge and expertise between our members in the sector. This structural national opportunity to connect is a huge step up in 2020 from previous years. Currently we have Paul Revill from Agape Care representing the voice of the Auckland providers in these meetings which is hugely appreciated!
  • The Auckland Transition Collaboration team has also managed to continue their work in spite of all the COVID restrictions. Although unfortunately no face to face meetings could be organised in 2020, they found new creative ways to encourage collaboration initiatives that improve the experience of young people in their transitioning into Adult live. They established the following in 2020:
    • Monthly zoom meetings for Vocational and Day services to:
      • Facilitate conversations between Transition coordinators & providers to identify gaps in the need for days services
      • To make better use of limited funding by encouraging collaboration around sharing Transport opportunities and even support staff for people who have the same interest.
  • As an outcome of this first school zoom meeting a Transport Guidelines / Taxi fares information flyer was created now available to download via the closed Facebook page.
    • Work has started on creating a checklist with tips & resources to improve accessibility from online zoom sessions. (also available to down load from the closed facebook page)
    • We have started collaborating with other organisations working in the Transition space to see how we can start realising this Online One Stop Shop for Transition that gets mentioned in every collaboration meeting we have organised in the last 3 years. There have been some very exciting and promising developments in this space that will hopefully come to fruit in the New Year. We hope to share a bit more on this in the new year.
    • At the NZDSN Transitioning out of school Symposium the Auckland Transition coordinators shared a great presentation of their work which included some wonderful specifically recorded videos of students who shared their positive experience of their transition support.
  • The My Voice Matters National Election online forum for the Auckland disability community took place on the 29th of August. Also due to COVID, this became a very short notice exercise and couldn’t have been pulled together without the sponsoring of many organisations. As part of the organising committee, I would like to express special thanks to a few people who took the lead in organising this event. Angela Desmarais, DPA Katuitui at the time, spent a lot of her voluntary time to get the social media up and running, together with Taryn Banks from the Access Alliance who promoted the event to make it all happen. Also, a big thank you to Jade Farrar and Hannah Averill from Epic Studios, who donated a generous amount of their time and technical expertise to get the event livestreamed on the day. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without Amy Hogan our amazing MC on the day, who also gave her time voluntarily. Our aim for next MVM election events to have access to a fund where we can make sure that, especially people with lived experience, can be appropriately financially acknowledge for their work around election events. You can still watch the recording of MVM forum at the My Voice Matters facebook page.
  • Also this Year Disability Connect pulled off an amazing Transition Expo. They keep growing every year and had around 700 people attending their Expo in St Johns. What was even more special was that they also managed to get several social enterprises showcasing their products.
  • On the 3rd of December Circability organised a great event to Celebrate Together the international Day of people with a disability. It was good to see so many people with lived experience joining in with the many creative workshops and festivities at the Victory Convention Centre. They also organised a great leadership discussion for some stakeholders in the disability sector. This was the 2nd time Circability took the initiative to bring the disability community in Auckland together on this international day to grow disability awareness. Let’s hope we can continue to grow this yearly event Auckland.
  • With our Auckland regional network from NZDSN, next to the many zoom meetings, we managed to organise 2 face to face regional networking events generously hosted by the Epsom campus from the University from Auckland.

I am really pleased that we have received confirmation that the Epsom Campus will remain open and that we will be able to keep using their facilities in 2021. Thank you again to Missy Morton and the events team from the Epsom Campus who make it possible for us to use their venue.

So far the feedback from our network meetings is that people like the format of a range of short presentation by different stakeholders, especially those presented by people with lived experience.

Topics requested for next year’s meeting are:

  • More info about Flexible Disability Support what it will look like.
    • How can organisations continue to work in an EGL – relevant way
    • Change and engagement management
    • Contract reporting
    • IT programs ICCM systems
    • Dual Diagnosis
    • Employment support opportunities for people/youth with disabilities
    • Real experiences Limitations & Celebrations of people with a disability

Please keep sending me your suggestions for topics for future network meeting presentations and or leadership workshops.

Planned meetings/ Initiatives for 2021!

Please save the date for next year’s scheduled Auckland regional face to face networking meetings:

  • 17th February at the Epsom Campus
    • 2nd June Epsom Campus
    • 23rd September In combination with our AGM venue to be confirmed
    • 24th November Epsom Campus

You can click here to register online for the Auckland networking meetings in 2021.

The final programme of each event will be added to the website closer to the dates

Presentations lined up for our first Auckland networking meeting on the 17th of February are:

  • NZDSN, Update Garth Bennie.
  • Able Comics, presentation Rod Wills and Hank Snell. Visual communication for the support and success of disabled people.
  • Update Te Pou
  • Martine Able, newly appointed DPA Kaituitui, & interim Co-chair for the Disability Advisory panel from Auckland council, will explain both her roles and give an update around both working areas.
  • Presentation by Mia Barr, White Clouds, professionalisation programme
  • Information about Liz Soper Foundation

Official public invitation with the final programme details will be sent out via email at the start of next year.

Upcoming other regional meetings in the Auckland region:

Auckland Small /Boutique providers network meeting 4th of February 10am-12pm at East Gate Trust, Pakuranga. To register email mireille@nzdsn.,

Auckland post schooling Vocational/ Day services zoom meeting 20 January 1-2 pm contact Robyn Hoffman at to register.

Events/ services in Auckland organised by other organisations in 2020

Show your Ability 22 February 2021 ASB Show Grounds

Dance therapy 2021

Te Pou website Disability Workforce page

Le VA Events

Parafed Auckland programmes

Touch Compass I-Waengā celebrating 3rd December a new digital work

Blind Low vision NZ Events

Disability Connect Events & Support

Newsletters & resources from other organisations

Blind Low vision NZ News

Deaf Aotearoa community news

Disability Connect E- Bulletin

Children’s Autism Newsletter

To stay up to date with sector developments and NZDSN’s work and events make sure to regularly check out our NZDSN website.

Recent NZDSN Publications

Click here for the recently published NZDSN briefing to incoming ministers 2020.

Click here for the latest National NZDSN newsletter from December 1st

If you currently don’t receive the national NZDSN newsletter updates, please contact me at or our head office at to be added to your national database.

NZDSN Auckland Executive Facilitator

Thank you all for your support, collaboration and trust in this demanding last year.

I look forward to continuing to work with you all in the new year, to make sure we can all offer the appropriate support to the people that want us there alongside them to create a good life for them.

Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions or to request a face to face meeting where we can discuss how NZDSN can best support you and your organisation. I am back to work to schedule meetings from the 25th of January onwards.

I hope you all get an opportunity to have a decent and relaxing and so well deserved holiday break and wish you and your dearest a happy festive season and great start of the new year. How privileged we are to be able to celebrate this with our friends and family as one of the few in the world!!

Mireille Vreeburg, Auckland Executive Regional Facilitator email: Phone: 021 025 93 41