Moves to transform New Zealand’s disability support system have been welcomed by the disability sector.

Associate Health and Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner announced yesterday a three month co-design process with the disability sector to begin a nationwide transformation of the disability support system.

“The current system does not work well for all disabled people. What we are working toward is a new system, based on the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) vision and principles, including individualised funding,” Ms Wagner says.

New Zealand Disability Support Network chief executive Garth Bennie welcomes the changes.

“We are encouraged by the decisions that have been made and look forward to contributing to design work and implementation that lies ahead.”

The transformation will take a “social investment approach” and build on lessons learnt from EGL demonstrations in Waikato and Christchurch, as well as evidence from here and overseas. The Waikato demonstration will continue, as will the arrangements put place in Christchurch when that demonstration finished.

“Input from the disability sector will be vital throughout the transformation process, particularly during the design phase. This change is about ensuring disabled people and their families have greater control over their lives as well as the support they receive from government.”

The new system will include:

  • Access to independent facilitation to assist people to be aspirational and feel connected to their community;
  • A strengths-based assessment process;
  • A personal budget for disability support (made up of funding from multiple government agencies);
  • Flexibility and choice about how to use the personal budget, and a range of options to assist its management;
  • Capacity building opportunities for disabled people and their families;
  • Referrals to other agencies for additional services including learning and income support.

The transformation will initially focus on those receiving support from Disability Support Services in the Mid-Central region.

Wagner says the new way of working will require a “significant culture change in all parts of the disability support system”, including Needs Assessment Coordination Services, providers and government agencies.

 

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