News Update — 19 August 2020

Kia ora tātou,

With rapidly unfolding changes we thought an update would be timely given the consequences of recent decisions by government. We can also update you on NZDSN activities. 

Table of Contents


Welcome back to ambiguity and complexity! We appreciate that providers are once again stepping up to respond to the new alert levels in situations that can be complex and often come with unavoidable ambiguity.  

This is particularly the case around family visits and supporting the vulnerable workforce. Guidance in these areas is never going to cover off every circumstance so providers need to assess risks carefully and base decisions on principles of open communication with families and good employer obligations. Because we are dealing with people’s homes that are also workplaces a balance needs to be struck between the wishes of disabled people and their families and preferences of workers, alongside good employer obligations. 

While the essential workers leave subsidy is still available there is one area that needs some attention and that is where decisions might be taken to prevent secondary employment to minimise risk across employment settings. There is currently no specific compensation for employees who may be disadvantaged in this scenario – we are in discussions about this. 

There is also some confusion as the essential workers leave scheme moves to a more generic scheme during the course of this week. If you are accessing the leave scheme for essential workers, you should not have to wait until August 21st to apply.

COVID-related costs for Level 4 are yet to be paid out due to some delays around verification of costs. A process for the earlier Level 3 and the current Level 3 is being developed. 

And as a reminder attached here is the current PPE guidance specific to the disability sector:

NZDSN Participation in COVID-Related Meetings/Forums

NZDSN is again involved in a series of more regular cross-sector meetings/forums as part of the response to COVID. These include: 

  • Sector Leadership Group (across MoH, MSD, DPO’s, Unions provider networks and family networks). 
  • Tripartite forum (with a focus on workforce issues) 
  • Disability Network (with HRC and DPOs) 
  • Weekly meetings with Minister Salesa 
  • Fortnightly meetings with DSS Deputy Director

Ministry of Health DSS Strategic Work Programme

Funding decisions: We know that providers are eagerly awaiting decisions about contract price uplifts and the delay is making financial planning extremely challenging. We have been informed that DSS will have the information assembled to make a decision by August 24th. We understand that there are plans to convene a representative group of providers at this point to discuss a framework to guide decision making on contract price uplifts. 

NZDSN survey on key priorities for a joint work programme with DSS. A huge thank you to all of those who completed the survey. We had 148 responses and comprehensive comments. We are analysing the results and will be discussing these at a Board meeting this week. We will then communicate with you about the key priorities that will form part of a joint work programme between NZDSN and the Ministry. 

System Transformation. We have been informed that work is well underway on a Cabinet Paper that will outline Machinery of Government options and those key features that will transform the disability service system experience for disabled people and families along with the required investment. This will also include the role of flexible commissioning and personal budgets. A paper is due with Cabinet before the end of the year. Some operational changes are also being considered for Mana Whaikaha and the EGL demonstrations to align with what is being proposed in the cabinet paper. Engagement and the interface with decisions that are made about the Health and Disability Review recommendations also need to be a consideration. 

Changes to NZDSN Events

As a result of the changes in Alert Levels, we can confirm that the Transition from School Symposium in Rotorua is postponed until September 30. There is also a new venue: The Distinction Hotel 390 Fenton St. Rotorua. We are in the process of checking the availability of presenters and Minister Sepuloni has confirmed the new date. We will be contacting those who have registered to reconfirm their participation. If this results in lower numbers we will reopen registrations as this event was full. 

The NZDSN AGM and Auckland Provider Network meeting will remain as planned for September 24th at this stage. We will revisit this decision on Friday 21st August. 

The Very High Needs Symposium in Auckland on October 14th will take place as planned at the new venue in Henderson. We will monitor this based on decisions that may be taken by Government on August 21st. Registrations are open for this event on the NZDSN website

The Employment Symposium (November) and the Safeguarding Symposium (December) will at this stage be proceeding as planned and registrations are open on our website 

The first in the What’s Next? transition workshop series will go ahead in Tauranga as planned. Registrations are still open. For further information and to register, view the NZDSN website.

The Wellington election event will now be held on October 1st – same venue. A revised flyer will be available soon. 

The Auckland election event is going ahead as planned on the 29th August, but as a live-streamed event. Further details will be available soon. 

Release of Working Matters. This is the Employment Action Plan to ensure equal opportunity to access employment by disabled people. NZDSN has been calling for such a plan for a considerable time so this an important milestone. We are pleased to be already involved in several of the actions including the employment diploma qualification and other provider capability building activities. It was also great to see the Employment Practice Guidelines referenced. 

A copy of Working Matters can be found here 

NZDSN Facebook Interest Groups

We have established a series of Facebook groups to facilitate connections with other NZDSN members, to share resources and information, and to discuss specific topic-related matters.  

We encourage anyone who is interested in any of these groups to submit a membership request by clicking the any of the links below—your membership request will then be reviewed by an administrator. 

There are 6 NZDSN Groups in total, as well as the already established Auckland-based small providers group which is now available to other small providers from around the country.:  

Transition from School 
Administrator is Jane Rotton: 

High and Complex Needs 
Administrator is Sharon Brandford: 

Supporting Families 
Administrator is Michelle Smith: 

Workplace Health and Safety/Injury Prevention 
Administrator is Irene Allen: 

Administrator is Tracy Parr: 

Tui Tuia 
Administrator is Tania Thomas:

Small Providers 
Administrators are Michelle Smith ( and Wendy Mosch (

Kia tū tahi tātou,
From the NZDSN Team