NZDSN News Update June 5th 2020

Kia ora NZDSN Members and supporters

As we anticipate a move to level one next week we have started to move from an exclusive focus on COVID related matters to some of the business as usual that is now emerging from being on hold – or has been bubbling along in the background. So our weekly “COVID-19 Updates” are transitioning to monthly (approximately) “NZDSN News updates.” We will also continue to communicate on specific matters as they come to hand. But we will start with a couple of COVID related topics.

In this News update:

  • Guidelines for the Returning Workforce
  • Extra-ordinary COVID-19 Costs Reimbursement
  • NZDSN partners with Go with Tourism to link disability providers with jobseekers
  • Regional Network Zoom Meetings 
  • Special Interest Groups using a new NZDSN closed Facebook page – we need answers to some key questions!
  • Upcoming Events
  • Employment Support Diploma Qualification
  • Website Refresh
  • Secretariat Vacancy with the DPO Coalition

Guidelines for the Returning Workforce

The risk assessment process and related guidelines are attached here:

We appreciate that the immediate relevance of these guidelines has long passed and providers have had to figure out processes based on information from a number of generic sources. However, there will be an ongoing risk to manage as we adapt to a “new normal” where there will be more awareness of the need for staff to stay home if they are unwell and continuing risk management for staff who have health vulnerabilities. The guidelines fall far short of what was expected in terms of a document tailored to the disability sector context – you will still need to search for information and guidance through the links provided (which most of you will have no doubt already visited). Getting something more relevant and useful for our sector signed off became something of a tortuous process for reasons that are not yet clear and it seemed to end up in a too hard basket somewhere in the Ministry. We will continue to see if something more relevant can be provided.

Extra-ordinary COVID-19 Costs Reimbursement

For DSS funded providers you will by now have received information about the process and a copy of the template to be used. These are due by June 18th.

GO WITH TOURISM Logo, multi-coloured circular shape with the text "GO WITH TOURISM" overlaid"

Go with Tourism and NZDSN have recently collaborated on a promotion to encourage tourism workers displaced by COVID-19 to consider disability support work as a new career option. The Go with Tourism Knowledge Hub will feature an article promoting disability support work, which can be viewed Here

Additionally, Go with Tourism operates a Job Connector platform where you, the employer, can search for new staff. The platform already has more than 1600 jobseekers listed. If you are looking to diversify your workforce and access people with transferable skills, this is an opportunity to profile your organisation and the vacancies you are looking to fill.  

For further details on how the Job Connector works for hiring managers, please follow this link:    

Signing up is quick and easy:  And to advertise your vacancies on the website you will need to make sure you tick the ‘Yes’ box as per the screen shot below.  You will need to provide a logo and information about the job.

Registration to the Job Connector will provide you with instant access, and the team at Go with Tourism will reach out to you if they need further information about the vacancy you want to advertise. If you have any queries, however, please contact Liz Grossman

The Go with Tourism marketing team are keen to run a webinar to discuss how the tourism industry can improve its connection with the disability community, from staffing to providing a better product and experience for disabled tourists. If you are interested in having your organisation and support workers featured in this promotion, please get in touch with the NZDSN office.

Regional Network Zoom Meetings

Our seven regional networks are now shifting to less frequent zoom meetings and/or beginning to shift back to face to face meetings every 3 months or so. However, there was a strong consensus from the 7 regional coordinators/hosts about the continuing value of a monthly zoom meeting for people holding these roles to provide a connection across the seven networks to enable information sharing about issues, developments and resources from around the country. These sessions will be held in the first week of each month starting in July. We will provide summary notes and share these nationally to all members.

Special Interest Groups using a new NZDSN closed Facebook page – we need answers to some key questions!

For some time, there has been a call for establishing “Special Interest Groups” that enable those in leadership roles to connect with others to share resources and information and to discuss specific topic related matters. 

We are now looking to establish these opportunities through a closed NZDSN Facebook group available only to NZDSN members. The group will provide links to several other NZDSN private groups, each devoted to a specific interest area. Each group will have a moderator/administrator whose role will be to accept new members, get initial discussion going, periodically encourage the sharing of resources and stimulate the ongoing exchange of information.

There has been previous discussion about subject matter for Special Interest Groups so we want to check with you whether these are still current and if there are suggestions for different topics. In addition, we want to hear from people interested in becoming administrators/moderators for each Special Interest group. If this role is unfamiliar to you, we can provide support to get you going.

Some proposed Special Interest Groups are:

  1. Finance/funding – financial planning, pricing, budgeting and forecasting, reporting, negotiating with funders
  2. Strategic and business planning – environmental scans, KPI’s, measuring and reporting on performance
  3. Workforce and Recruitment/HR – employment law, employment agreements, recruitment, performance management, negotiating collective agreements, workforce development
  4. Technology – CMS systems, recording/reporting for front line staff, remote support and safeguarding, digital solutions for staff training
  5. Employment support Services
  6. Residential and supported living Services
  7. Community Participation Services
  8. EGL and System Transformation – EGL practice and leadership, FDS contracts, personal budgets
  9. Effectively supporting families
  10. Small Providers Group

  • Do these hit the mark? – are there other major Special Interest Areas that people would be interested in? – are there other topics that could be added under the above headings?
  • What do you think are the top 6 that we should focus on?

And of course we would love to hear from people interested in being Facebook administrators/moderators for each Special Interest group – please email  if you want to volunteer.

We look forward in anticipation to your responses to this email – please send your replies to  June 19.

Upcoming Events

National Symposiums

You will recall that these 4 events were postponed until early September, October, November and December. We anticipate that these will now be able to go ahead without any restrictions on numbers and at the venues originally planned. We need to check in with all the presenters and their availability and will be sending out updated information and registration details very soon. 

Training and development opportunities for MSD funded providers

We are planning a number of opportunities with a focus on employment support, transition and EGL leadership development. Some of these opportunities will be via webinars as we source international expertise to deliver some content. The first of these is a 5 module series on Effective Employer Engagement for employment support providers. Details are attached here: 

And a reminder that the MSD training fund is open for applications – acknowledging that this may not have been top of mind over the last couple of months.


This is on September 24th in Auckland. This will include a forum session focused on Leadership. Further details coming soon.

Election Forums

We are working with a number of different partners on a couple of forums that will help to focus the minds of politicians on the aspirations of the disability sector as we head into the general election.

Employment Support Contract Analysis

We have just completed a piece of work for MSD on an analysis of the current Employment Support Contracts. The intent is to better align the payments to where the actual effort is needed to create sustainable employment outcomes – and to better reflect the Employment Support Practice Guidelines. There is also an added outcome in relation to training with before and post school pathways. The report is currently sitting with MSD for consideration and we will look to release this work in due course as we took the opportunity to raise a number of related issues, not the least of which is pricing. 

Employment Support Diploma Qualification

Work has continued on curriculum development and the writing of assessment guides. A team of Accredited Assessors/Learning Facilitators has been recruited and training for this team is scheduled for later this month. Work is also underway to load content material onto the Careerforce digital platform. We hope to be open for enrolments in late July. Promotional material and enrolment information should be available by the end of June.

Website Refresh

Callum McMenamin, our digital media coordinator, is working on a refresh of our website including a full accessibility audit. The result will be a new look and feel and a lot more user friendly. Callum is also setting up the new closed Facebook page to establish the special interest groups.

Secretariat Vacancy with the DPO Coalition

Details about this role and how to apply are here:

Kia tu tahi tatou
The NZDSN Team