MidCentral DSS Rollout Announcement Mixed with Great and Terrible

New Zealand’s disability sector finally has a date for the initial rollout of a completely new support system, beginning in the MidCentral from October 1st with a budget of $23.8million. 

I am a little late to the party in writing about this as the announcement came on Wednesday, but I wanted a couple of days to try and reflect on what Ministers said. In reality, neither Minister Sepuloni or Minister Genter provided much bulk to the detail other than the October 1st rollout date, the $23.8million budget, and the urge for evaluations to include a greater scope than just the financial implications.

The actual announcement itself was shockingly under-hyped with official word only coming through the System Transformation email channels the day before. But was this by design? Ministers spoke for a combined total of just over 15-minutes, and a key detail that was also left out was that Enable (the local NASC in the MidCentral) would be largely responsible for delivering the new system initially.

A unique aspect of the new systems’ development has been its co-design process. Disabled people, families, and providers were all apart of designing what the new system should look like and directly worked alongside government officials throughout much of last year. However, findings in the new cabinet paper show that the group aired strong concerns about the involvement of the NASC, in this case, Enable NZ, and strongly urged that this cannot become a template for the new system moving forward.

The National Enabling Good Lives Leadership group also stated their view that the current organisational structure of the initial rollout can only be an interim solution.

Some Key Details of the MidCentral Rollout

  • October 1st start date
  • $23.8million budget over two years, including a total of $2.6million to continue current EGL demonstrations in Waikato and Christchurch
  • Enable (NASC) responsible for system delivery (contract between Enable & MoH)
  • Try, learn, and adjust approach

Initially, rollout in the MidCentral had been slated for July 1st, so this is a short delay of three months. System transformation team say that the co-design process, planning, and several other elements led to the delay.

My Reaction

Overall, I felt a mix of relief and optimism following Wednesdays’ announcement. I felt that Ministers could have provided a little more detail and that we were left hanging at the end, but I respect that there are still many of the finer details still to be flushed out. If anything, we were lucky that the rollout wasn’t pushed back even further than October.

But I reiterate my earlier comments, this event was shockingly under-hyped and came close to going completely under the radar. The amount of work that has been put in over the past few years, coupled with the high level of interest in this new system, deserved a far more polished, pre-planned, and transparent comms strategy. Using what appeared to be a mobile device to live stream such a historic moment is simply not good enough, and why they chose to do it via YouTube and not Facebook where far more viewership would’ve been available is beyond me.

On the positive side though, the real winner in all of this is the disabled people of the MidCentral. Up to 1600 people will benefit from this, but crucially, they also have the choice to stay using their existing setups of support, at least for the short to mid-term future.

Most of everything else, like a lot of realities in this disability sector, remains to be seen.




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