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DPA's Information Exchange - 10 July 2020

In this week's Info Exchange:

Findings on local authorities and accessibility 

An Office for Disability Issues (ODI) National Local Authority Survey on Accessibility was triggered by disabled people reporting that local government has a greater impact on their daily lives than central government.

The survey gives a snapshot of the progress being made by some local authorities towards meeting the accessibility needs of disabled people - and the huge room for improvement.

Twenty-three out of 78 local authorities responded (one regional council, seven city councils, and 14 district councils; one council chose to remain anonymous).

The survey covered seven key areas of interest: leadership; participation; data collection and planning; access to information and services; transport; built and public spaces; and resilience and inclusive communities.

ODI Key Findings:


Just over 30 percent of councils responded that “disabled people are ‘at the table’ when significant decisions are made”. In addition, 13 percent reported that, in relation to accessibility, “disabled people are employed in areas of leadership”.

Our conclusion is that more needs to be done to employ disabled people in local government positions in order to take a lead on accessibility.


Thirty-nine percent of councils rated the accessibility of their processes for disabled people’s participation in the community as “developing”.

When asked how they include the voices of disabled people in election processes, policy development and implementation, almost 40 percent reported that they do not have any form of accessibility or older people’s advisory group.

Our conclusion is that more can be done to progress disabled people’s participation in policy development and implementation at the local level.

Data collection

Reporting on incidences of non-accessibility and resolution outcomes is the most common method of collecting accessibility data (74 percent). This suggests that councils may only collect such data following an incident.

Our conclusion is that the councils are not proactively collecting accessibility information on a wide range of issues.


Seventy-eight percent and 40 percent listed the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026 and the Accessibility Charter respectively as informing their thinking on accessibility planning. While it is encouraging that the Disability Strategy is prevalent in the surveyed councils’ thinking on accessibility, it would be beneficial to increase the profile of the Accessibility Charter.

The majority of councils use informal networks (91 percent) and in-house experience and expertise (74 percent) to support accessibility work.

The most frequent barriers identified by respondents as impeding progress on improving accessibility for disabled people relate to cost (eg retrofitting existing infrastructure) and resourcing (eg budget).

When asked what would best assist them in progressing work around accessibility in their regions, the most frequent response was clear guidance from both central government and their own councils, and a core staff within councils dedicated to disability issues.

Access to information and services

Two-thirds of councils are enabling disabled people to access information and services through the training of frontline staff.

Our conclusion is that other processes will also need to be put in place to improve access to information and services.


Seventy-four percent of councils rate their regional transport as less than “good” for accessibility.

When asked to comment on how they support the provision of accessible transport options, the most common answer was accessible parking.

Built and public spaces

Although respondents rate the accessibility of built spaces (74 percent gave a rating of “adequate” or “good”) and public spaces slightly better than the accessibility of transport networks, the conclusion is that much more work is required to meet disabled people’s needs in communities across New Zealand.

Resilience and inclusive communities

The ratings of resilience for local communities were mixed, being evenly distributed between “developing”, “adequate”, “good” and “strong”.

Although many councils are supporting a focus on inclusive communities, it is not clear whether this incorporates a focus on disabled people.

Some councils have a focus on disabled residents in emergency management planning.

Respondents listed various ways of providing “safe” community places or approaches for reporting incidents (eg hate crime) such as community-wide education workshops and councils working in collaboration with local emergency services.

Policy and practice documents

Councils were able to submit additional documentation to support their answers. Thirteen councils submitted 34 documents, which showed that a substantial amount of work is required to develop robust policies and practices that will make a positive difference in the daily lives of disabled people in communities across New Zealand.

Read the full National Local Authority Survey on Accessibility on the ODI website.


Petition to develop a National Rare Disorder Framework

Sue Haldane, on behalf of Rare Disorders NZ, has launched a Parliamentary Petition seeking essential systemic changes to benefit everyone within the rare disorder community, and wider society as well.

The petition request is that the House of Representatives urge the Government to acknowledge the universal challenges faced by people living with a rare disease, and the unfairness within the current system, by committing to the development of a New Zealand National Rare Disorder Framework.

There are around 300,000 Kiwis living with a rare disease, with a range of disability within this group. NZ lags behind most OECD countries in supporting people living with rare disorders and their families to access the best healthcare. Rare Disorders NZ believe a shift in mind-set is needed for rare disorders to stop being considered in isolation, and instead to be regarded as a significant factor within health policy frameworks. This is in alignment with the global rare disease movement headed by Rare Disease International.

"I try to imagine if, when Lizzie was diagnosed with a lifelong condition, there was a blueprint for coordinated family care. Of course, the person diagnosed should receive laser-like focus, but primary caregivers also need a strategic support plan and formalised care," Sue Haldane, Mum of Lizzie, says.

Read Sue and Lizzie’s story 

Read the Rare Disorders media release.

Sign the National Rare Disorders Framework Petition



Arts Access Aotearoa trustees: expressions of interest

Arts Access Aotearoa is now inviting Expressions of Interest from people who would like to join their Board of Trustees.

They are seeking two new board members. Formal governance experience is desirable but not essential and you can be based in any region of New Zealand.

The trustees meet five times a year in Wellington and are also expected to attend the AGM and some of the events, where possible. Trustees may also be involved in sub-committees and fundraising initiatives.

All trustees give their time voluntarily. Travel and accommodation is paid for and expenses related to attending meetings are reimbursed.

The closing date for expressions of interest is 5pm Monday 31 August 2020.

To find out more and to apply visit the Arts Access Aotearoa website.


ODI Annual Stakeholder Survey

ODI acknowledge the fact that the timing of this survey is not great given the series of Covid-19 surveys they have sent out but, on an annual basis at this time of the year ODI, as one of its accountabilities, needs to seek feedback from stakeholders on the work of the Office. 

The feedback is not just an accountability mechanism, it provides the opportunity for ODI to learn from the feedback provided.

The survey includes 18 short questions and should take approximately 6 minutes to complete. 

The deadline for completing the survey is 14 July 2020.

Take the ODI Stakeholder Survey 2020

'How life is going for the disability community' survey

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this series of surveys about the issues and risks being experienced by disabled people and their whānau/families in the Covid-19 environment.

The results of the survey so far are now available on the ODI website.

If you haven't yet completed the lastest (fourth round) of the survey, it is still online and open until July 13

For more information and to take the survey (in either standard English, Easy Read or NZSL) go to the ODI website.

If you would like someone to go through the survey with you over the telephone please let us know - send us a message, email or leave a message on our answer phone 04 801 9100, and we will get back to you.


DPA membership renewal reminder

Thank you to everyone who has already renewed their membership!

DPA membership runs for the financial year from 1 July to the next 30 June and membership renewal reminder emails were sent out yesterday. If you didn't receive one, renewing is really simple – you just need to fill in your name and email address on our renewal form and your membership will be renewed.

Please note, if you joined DPA within the last quarter of the last financial year (eg. after April 1) you won't have been sent a reminder and you don't need to renew as your membership will have automatically been set to be current until June 30 2021. 

If you aren't yet a member, now is a great time to join - membership is now free for individuals and families!

The majority of DPA members are disabled people. But other people, families and organisations also contribute their time, energy and expertise as DPA members. Over the last year the support and engagement from our membership has been fantastic.

Full members (Individual on the membership form) have the right to vote in DPA activities. All disabled people are entitled to full membership rights. All other individuals (our allies!) are Associate members.

When a member of your family has an impairment, and is under the age of 18 years, your family is entitled Full membership.  All other families are Associate members.

You can join DPA by filling in our membership form.

If this newsletter has been forwarded to you and you would like to receive the Information Exchange weekly, please subscribe here

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