Environmental Scan

The Briefing for incoming Minister (BiM) is nearing completion ahead of the announcement of who the incoming Minister for Disability Issues is to be.  The BiM will be sent to the new Minister (and other Ministers, eg: Social Development) as soon as possible following that announcement and a meeting sought with the Minister(s) to discuss the topics raised, most of which are covered below.

As soon as the BiM has been delivered to Ministers, we will release for the wider membership and others on our website.

Calls for Whaikaha to follow up the Provider Hui on funding with a meeting with NZDSN to clarify key messages on behalf of members remain unresolved, with Whaikaha to nominate dates when relevant officials are available to meet.  This issue will likely not broaden to include the wider issue of funding for the sector and (perhaps) our seeking to work with Whaikaha to develop a cost-of-service model might creep into the discussion.  The goal is to come out with an agreed set of communication messages our members will understand.

The sector rumour mill has started around the expansion of EGL to two new trial sites.  We have asked Whaikaha to clarify:

  • When Whaikaha plans to share information on this with the sector? 
  • What sites have been selected for the next EGL roll out?
  • How were these sites identified/selected?
  • And what is the nature of the EGL service being trialled?  Is it a carbon copy of Waikato, for example, or some sort of composite of the existing trial sites based on an evaluation?  Has there been a formal evaluation of the existing sites, and if so, can we see that?

Whaikaha advise that the contingency drawdown paper on our Whaikaha’s website refers to the extension of EGL into two new regions over the next three years.  They advise that decisions on when and how that will happen are yet to be made, because implementation decisions will be considered and approved by the Transformation Management Board that Whaikaha is in the process of establishing. 

In the meantime Whaikaha is in the process of contracting five organisations to undertake capacity building in a number of regions to support the further roll out of EGL.  This will put in place the foundations for regional leadership groups to support the expansion of EGL to new regions.  We have asked for further information on the capacity-building programme of work that is currently underway.

Finally, I shared the Whaikaha/IDEA Complaints Review Report with our Tui Tuia Maori Advisory Committee for their comment.  They observed the following:

  • The document is largely silent on a Mâori paradigm within the review but Tui Tuia assumes that whânau Māori were among those interviewed, by the language the writer uses to capture their contribution
  • Neither the Terms of Reference or Principles request a Mâori world view be captured as part of the review so it is not surprising it is seemingly absent
  • Page 11 (viii) e,  makes a recommendation for all service providers to include tikanga Mâori in apology if appropriate. There is a great recommendation for the end result of a complaint but what could the entire process look like through a Māori lens?
  • The review raised the following questions and observations from Tui Tuia including:
  • What is the rongoa for whaanau Mâori when they need raise a concern?
  • Will there be an opportunity to set up an independent body to frame up appropriate responses for all disabled people – including Mâori and Pasefika?
  • There was a general feeling that Whaikaha need help to get it right for tangata whenua therefore, Tui Tuia offer their service and support to assist Whaikaha with this work if needed

I have advised Whaikaha that we are happy to support the offer from our Tui Tuia Committee to assist/support Whaikaha to consider the report and its recommendations through a tāngata whenua Maori lens, and await their response.

I have received advice from Martin Anderson of his appointment as our key contact.  I have responded including the point that we value the direct lione of communication on relevant issues with Amanda Bleckmann, Ben O’Meara and Paula Tesotriero, and would seek for these lines of communication to continue.

Named employers have elected not to proceed with a complaint to either the Public Service Commissioner or the CEOs of Te Whatu Ora and Ministry of Health following evidence suggesting bullying and a breach of the Standards of Integrity and Conduct (the Code), in favour of meeting with both Margie Apa and Diana Sarfati to discuss said concerns (again, yet to be confirmed).  Meanwhile, the review of the pay equity process to date continues.  Risks as a result of the posturing by Te Whatu Ora include:

  • Delay to the progress of the claim
  • Likely delay in settlement and subsequent extension to the remainder of the sector
  • Likely reduction in the settlement level
  • Exposure to the risk of challenge against the named employers and unions if a lower settlement cannot be justified as pay equity defined under the Act
  • Risk that any settlement may not be fully-funded, exposing employers to financial risk

The unions have presented a further claim representing 167 named employers, and the possibility of an Employment Court proceeding against the named employers.

We will be repeating a revised workforce survey of our membership.

We need data to clarify the current state of vacancies to support any pressure we seek to put on Whaikaha, Immigration NZ, politicians, etc.

We continue to push Waikaha for further work to complete a Disability Workforce Strategy.  Their response to date has been resource-dependent.  Part of this strategy work may include consideration of an over-arching framework for sector qualifications (how the existing qualifications fit the view of sector skill requirements, any gaps, etc).

In our BiM we have argued that the Accessibility for all New Zealanders Bill recently referred back to Select Committee following largescale public concern at the lack of enforcement teeth should mirror the American legislation.  We are in the early stages of establishing a closer working relationship with DPA on common areas, including the accessibility legislation.

Social Housing relates closely to accessibility.  We know there is a social housing shortage and that this particularly impacts on disabled people seeking access.  Complicating factors include the face that four agencies are involved in this space (Kainga Ora, HUD, MBIE and Whaikaha).  We have issues with Kainga Ora’s 15% goal of new social housing meeting National Standards (not all of which appeal to accessibility for disabled people).  The sector has issues with the administration of the Social Housing register, which actively disadvantages disabled people.  We worry that (one of) the impact(s) of My Home, My Choice will see a lift in those seeking to extricate themselves from residential services in order to seek independence in social housing, let alone the current demand that clearly outstrips supply.

Employment Support is presently with MSD.  We are keen to engage with Whaikaha on their view of Employment Support and (if politically acceptable) seek their support to ensure MSD conducts an appropriate review of the contracted service sooner rather than later, with input from the sector.

We are re-establishing the NZDSN Employment Support Advisory Group.  Draft ToR have been developed and an initial meeting of the group is now to be scheduled.  Efforts are also being made to invite ES providers to regular Provider Network meetings around the country to integrate ES with our other disability support membership.