News Update — August 2020

Kia ora tātou,

In this update we will share with you the outcomes of some discussions with the Ministry of Health, some thoughts on the Health and Disability Review (Simpson Report) and bring you up to speed with NZDSN events, including our September AGM.

Table of Contents

Resetting Our Relationship With the Ministry of Health

Over the past few weeks we have been raising some long standing concerns about the performance of the Disability Directorate and signalled that these are at a critical point. We have communicated these concerns to Minister Salesa, to the Deputy Director and we have met with the Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield.

Our concerns included leadership, clarity around strategic direction, communications, stakeholder engagement, workforce development, the absence of data led planning and a lack of traction around a national roll out of more flexible approaches to commissioning.

We talked with the Director General about the need to reset the relationship with the Disability Directorate to one that is based on a valued partnership. These discussions have been positive and constructive and we have agreed some actions going forward. These centre around identifying a couple of significant priorities that will be built into the Ministry’s wider strategic work programme so that they have the full and focused support of the Director General. We have agreed to meet with Dr Bloomfield again in two months to review the progress being made.

During our discussion, we offered several projects that could be considered as priority areas. These included: a coherent workforce strategy, a national roll out of FDS contracts, a pathway towards sustainable funding, and a clear stakeholder management plan.

Before we make a call on what the two most important priorities are we want to take the opportunity to “sense check” these with our membership – as well as open up the possibility for other priority areas to be identified. The Ministry have also suggested some priority areas.

We have decided to do this via Survey Monkey. This will only take a few moments and provides an opportunity for you to prioritise those projects that have already been identified, offer up other priorities and provide comment on any other matters we should be considering.

NZDSN members will be emailed a link to the survey on Friday 7th August

Health and Disability Review Report

NZDSN released a media statement a week or so after this report landed. A copy can be found here.

While we acknowledge that there is a fairly strong consensus across the sector that disability support does not “belong” in the health system we do need to be a bit more specific about what the alternatives might be – if not health, where should disability support be located in the machinery of government and how should it be structured? In constructing alternatives, it is imperative that we are able to articulate solutions that address the long standing discrimination that operates across the Health and ACC systems and offer funding solutions that go well beyond a sole reliance on direct taxation. These would be bold reforms and the political appetite for this is not yet well established. NZDSN is keen to work with others to develop consensus around potential solutions.

In the meantime, if the next Government is determined to push ahead with the report recommendations we need to be advocating strongly as a whole sector around how the EGL principles can be embedded in governance, commissioning and service delivery arrangements in the proposed new structure. NZDSN welcomes any opportunity to work collaboratively with other sector stakeholders and government to ensure a balance is achieved between national consistency and local responsiveness.

The Health and Disability Review report can be viewed here.

We Have Refreshed Our Website!

Callum has completely rebuilt our website (NZDSN) from the ground up. It was designed with accessibility as a main priority, to ensure it has good compliance with the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). We will be continuing to make refinements over the coming weeks, and we would be very happy to hear your feedback.

NZDSN Special Interest Facebook Groups

We are establishing 4 Special Interest Groups on Facebook to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and discussions.

These are:

  • Supporting Families
  • Transition from School
  • Workplace Health and Safety/Injury Prevention
  • High and Complex Needs

The Interest groups will be open for those who are interested shortly.
In addition, the Auckland Small Providers Group welcomes participation on their Facebook page from other small providers from around the country:
We are pleased to be able to invite you to join the ‘Small Providers closed Facebook page. This Facebook group was already put in place by the ‘Auckland Small Providers Network’ as a platform where they can share good practice, resources, news and events and where at the same time providers can raise questions and ask for peer support around certain topics.

The Auckland Network is now keen to open up this platform to other small providers in New Zealand.

You can join the group via this link or just look up online the Facebook group ’Small Providers’! If you want to join as a new member of this closed Facebook group, you automatically will be asked to complete 3 questions after which a request for approval will go to the current moderators Wendy Mosch (Totara Farm Trust) and Michelle Smith ( LifeWise).

After being approved as members, the group rules will invite you to post a brief introduction for all members to see. We hope to have many NZDSN members joining this special interest Facebook group to allow for more sharing and peer support around those specific small provider’s topics! If you have any questions about this closed Facebook group please feel free to contact Wendy Mosch at

Election Focussed Events

NZDSN is collaborating with other organisations on two forums that provide an opportunity for politicians to demonstrate how they will respond to the key concerns and aspirations of the disability sector.
The first is on August 26th in Wellington. It will be held from 4-6pm at Wharewaka Function Centre, 2 Taranaki St. Further details and registration information will be available soon.

The second is on August 29th in Auckland. Details are here.

National Symposiums

These four events were postponed leading into the COVID lockdown and have been re-scheduled as follows:

  • Transition from School: Frameworks for Better Practice
    9th September in Rotorua (This event is full)
  • Supporting Young People with Very High Needs Post School
    14th October in Auckland
  • Employment Support: Let’s Leave No One Behind
    10th November in Wellington
  • Safeguarding a Good Life
    10th December in Christchurch

Registrations for each of these four events are limited to 120 participants so register soon! You can register here.

Transition From School Collaborations: Life After School — What’s Next?

These workshops are a collaboration between NZDSN, Imagine Better and Parent2Parent. They bring together students and their families, educators and post school providers to develop a common vision and purpose to realise different futures for young people. The programme involves three days spread over several weeks. For further information and registration for the Bay of Plenty event click here.

There will be two further workshops at other locations in early 2021
There will also be a second series in several locations during October and November with a focus on employment outcomes. More details Soon!

Service Transformation Journeys

A series of workshops that supports leadership teams to embed EGL informed practice across organisations. This initiative is being delivered through a partnership with Humanly, a new consultancy experienced in organisational change based on connection cultures. The intention is to bring two or more organisations together in a community to maximise impact and cross-agency effort. Further details available soon.

Employment Support Webinars

In a post COVID world employment support agencies will be operating in a far more competitive labour market where crafting proposals that are a win/win for employers and jobseekers will be essential. This series of Webinars are brought to you by our Australian and Seattle based partners:

Effective Employer Engagement (EEE): Three webinars are already sold out with great feedback from those who have already completed the course. Further courses are planned.

Job Development: Details available soon.

Systematic Instruction: Details available soon.

Employment Support Diploma Qualification

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID lockdown work on launching this new qualification has continued to progress. Assessors and learning support facilitators have been recruited, the curriculum and assessment guides are almost completed and we should be distributing promotional and enrolment details soon.

NZDSN Annual General Meeting

A formal notice of our AGM will be distributed separately, including a call for remits and nominations for 3 Board vacancies. It is being held in Auckland on the 24th September in conjunction with our Auckland Providers Network meeting. We encourage members to participate in the Board election process and the AGM as part of ensuring that NZDSN remains relevant and accountable to its membership.

The Auckland Network Meeting will feature presentations from The I Lead young people’s team, Janelle Fisher and Lisa Clausen (creating change with connection cultures) and Warren Forster updating us on his work and thinking on how to create an accessible, fair and affordable disability support system.

For further information and registration details click here.

Voting Information in Accessible Formats

For all information on voting in the 2020 General Election and referendums in accessible formats, refer to the Electoral Commission’s website.

The Electoral Commission has worked with People First to produce this Easy Read Guide to Voting:

Kia tū tahi tātou,
From the NZDSN Team