20 Nov 2020

NZ govt looks into calls for specific ministry for disabled by Pasifika group

9:41 am on 20 November 2020

A call for the creation of a Ministry for Disabled People from a Pasifika disability group is being looked into by the NZ government.

The Minister for Disabled Issues, Carmel Sepuloni, is seeking advice on the submission made by Tōfa Mamao Collective.

Nurse keeping company disabled lonley person

Photo: 123RF

In July, Tōfa Mamao Collective sent a letter addressed to the Minister of Health at the time Chris Hipkins, concerned with recommendations made by this year's Health and Disability Review report.

The review recommended that disability services should fall under District Health Boards, which the collective was not happy about.

Carmel Sepuloni said the advice will form part of the instructions to ministers on the next steps for transforming the disability support system.

"Officials and disability community representatives will work in partnership when considering arrangements to support disabled people.

"I've asked officials to consider how we can strengthen advice on disability policy, disability services outside of the health system, regulations and accountability, governance, and service commissioning. An important aspect of any changes will be how well disabled people, family and whānau are able to have a voice and that disabled people, family and whānau have greater choice and control over their own lives.

"Ensuring that all of these works well for disabled people, family and whānau is the first and most important question," she said.

Carmel Sepuloni heading into the Labour caucus where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will brief MPs on her ministerial preferences for the new government.

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Minister Sepuloni received the letter along with Minister Hipkins, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Jenny Salesa and Minister Aupito William Sio.

The government is looking at the ways it will respond to the Health and Disability System Review, and what changes could be made.

But enquiries around this are now to be directed to the new Minister of Health, Andrew Little.

Tōfa Mamao Collective told RNZ Pacific that they have not received a response from the government yet, but they are amending the letter to send to Little.