Disability support system transformation

A nationwide transformation of the existing disability support system is under way.

Aotearoa New Zealand's health system is changing to ensure all New Zealanders get the services they need and to meet future challenges. A simpler and more coordinated operating model will be made up of the Ministry of Health, which will have a strengthened stewardship role, Health NZ which will manage the health system day to day, and the Māori Health Authority which will be responsible for ensuring the health system provides more equitable outcomes for Māori. 

The new Ministry for Disabled People will work with these agencies and across Government, to create a true partnership between the disability community and Government, help drive ongoing transformation of the disability system in line with the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach, and lift the profile of disability across Government. 

The aim of the transformed system is to ensure disabled people and their families have greater choice and control in their lives.

The transformation of the system will be based on the principles of Enabling Good Lives, which were developed by a group from the disability sector. This is the latest step on a journey that began in 2011, when a group from the disability community presented its vision and principles to Government. 

Since then, Enabling Good Lives has been trialled in Waikato, Christchurch and, since 2018, in Mid-Central (Mana Whaikaha), and the national rollout will be built on this platform. In Mid-Central, the approach has been trial, learn and refine, and this will inform national implementation.

The vision is based on disabled people having greater choice and control over their lives. The principles of how disabled people would like to live their lives include self-determination, with the system investing early, being person-centred, being easy to use, supporting disabled people to live an everyday life, able to access mainstream services, being mana-enhancing, and building and strengthening relationships between disabled people, their whānau and community.

You can find out more about the principles on the Enabling Good Lives website.

What happens now?

The Ministry of Health’s Disability Directorate will continue to fund manage services for the time being. 

A dedicated Transition and Establishment Team has been set up within the Ministry of Social Development to manage transition of services to the new Ministry. During the transition to the new Ministry, it will be our top priority to ensure disabled people continue to receive their supports.

The team will work closely with the disabled community to ensure the community’s vision is built into the DNA of the new agency.

It is key that disabled people, their families and whānau are a core part of governance of the new system and that their voices are embedded at all levels of decision-making.


December 2021

The Disability Directorate has produced a Fact Sheet for DSS providers on what happens to contracts during transition.

October 2021

In October 2021 the Government announced that it was creating a new Ministry for Disabled People, and that Enabling Good Lives will be implemented nationally. You can read more, including the timeline for when changes are happening, on the Ministry of Social Development’s website.

May 2021

Budget 2021 provides continued funding for three regional disability support service programmes, and will enable work on the overall System Transformation programme to continue. The three regions are Christchurch, Waikato and Mid-Central.

The additional funding is $72.7 million over four years, which will provide certainty and continuity of support for disabled people, and for the essential workforce in those regions. It will also enable work to continue towards a national implementation. 

September 2018

Monday 1 October sees the launch of the transformed disability support system, Mana Whaikaha, in MidCentral. The locations for the various Connector Hubs were confirmed and the members of the MidCentral Governance Group announced. Read more about the Mana Whaikaha launch.

July 2018

Two directors for the new disability support system in MidCentral have taken up their roles. Lorna Sullivan and Marshall Te Tau are getting ready for the launch on 1 October, 2018.

The System Transformation team has also been focusing on with recruiting people for both teams within MidCentral, developing business processes and continuing work on Cabinet papers. 

Check out the Enabling Good Lives website to find out more about what the team has been doing this month.

June 2018

Disabled people and their whānau are encouraged to apply for new positions within the transformed disability support system.

More information about the Connector/Kaitūhono role and other vacancies in the MidCentral prototype can be found on the Enabling Good Lives website.

May 2018

The System Transformation team is recruiting for the new teams in MidCentral, with the new disability support system launching there on 1 October.

Through June the team will be focussing on:

  • Livestreaming question and answer sessions
  • Terms of reference and selection process for the MidCentral governance group
  • Further recruiting for the two teams

Disabled people and their whânau are encouraged to apply for roles within the new system. Once the ads are listed, you can find the links on the Enabling Good Lives website

To access Sacha O’Dea’s May update, please go to the Enabling Good Lives website.

April 2018

  • 30 April: System Transformation’s Sacha O’Dea talks about disability support in the new system and why two teams are being set up: Monthly update - Enabling Good Lives website
  • 26 April: A new disability support system will be trialled in MidCentral, with roll-out on 1 October 2018. Find out more.

February 2018

Disabled people to meet with new Ministers about the transformation of the disability support system. Find out more.

January 2018

New Ministers have been meeting System Transformation staff to gain an understanding about the progress in designing a new disability support system. Find out more.

December 2017

The System Transformation team has had a busy year engaging stakeholders across the disability sector to design both the high level and detailed aspects of the new disability support system.

November 2017

Working groups developing the detailed design of the transformed disability support system have been holding regular workshops over the last month.

October 2017

Working groups have been formed to start creating the detailed design for the transformed disability support system. Find out more on the Enabling Good Lives website.

2017 Workshops

A group, which includes disabled people, representatives from families with disabled members and from disability service organisations, held a series of workshops to develop the high-level design for the transformed system.

The workshops have been an intense period of work for those involved. You can find out more about each workshop at the following links.

Photo of the workshop participants

June 13 workshop

At the final workshop, disabled people reflected the co-design process allowed them to contribute in an equal way and they felt confident bringing their experience and views to the table. 

Find out more about the June 13 workshop.

Participants at the June workshop

June 7 workshop

The co-design group finalises a high-level design for creating a new disability support system and meets Minister Nicky Wagner.

Find out more about the June 7 workshop.

Photo of the workshop participants listening to someone.

May 30/31 workshop

The high level design of the new disability support system is tested, review and refined by the co-design group charged with creating it.

Find out more about the May 30/31 workshop

Photo of the workshop participants listening to someone. May 16/17 workshop

Mapping the ideal experience for disabled people and their families/whānau was a focus of the two day co-design workshop. The group look at what was needed to deliver that experience.

Find out more about the May 16/17 workshop

Photo of a group at the workshop talking. May 11 workshop

Key design challenges around funding, control and choice were discussed while a review of evidence highlighted what to do and what not to do for a new system at the fourth workshop.

Find out more about the May 11 workshop

Photo of several groups at the workshop. May 4 workshop

Designing for the diversity of the disability community and the beginning of mapping what a new system could look like were the focus of the third workshop on transforming the disability support system.

Find out more about the May 4 workshop

Photo of one of the groups discussing something. April 26 workshop

The scope of transformation of the disability support system was explained and a working definition of the Mainstream Frist principle was agreed to at the second workshop.

Find out more about the April 26 workshop

Photo of one of the groups working. April 11 workshop

The first workshop on designing the transformation of the disability support system has been held in Wellington. Those attending discussed how they would work together.

Find out more about the April 11 workshop

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