For the full experience please download a modern browser. Click here to find a modern browser or discuss with your IT department.

Auckland and Hamilton offices are currently closed due to COVID level 3 restrictions. Te Pou offices outside Auckland and Hamilton have limited staff and restricted access onsite, so please call if you wish to visit. However, we are all working, and you can contact us by email or phone. Stay safe everyone.

Equal access to wellbeing

People with learning disabilities or autism are much more likely to experience mental distress than the general population. However, this is not reflected in the way related assessments, funding, supports, training, and services are provided in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Inevitably, disabled people experiencing mental health and addiction related needs (tāngata whaikaha) have been caught between disability and mental health sectors, often resulting in them falling through the gaps and losing out both ways.

Te Pou to lead Equal access to wellbeing project

Te Pou, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, is leading a Equal access to wellbeing project to contribute towards better opportunities and outcomes for disabled people experiencing mental distress (tāngata whaikaha).

The overarching aim of the project is to identify options for strengthening the workforce to support tāngata whaikaha and their whānau.

Specifically, the project is developing a national knowledge and skills framework for mental health and addiction and disability workforces. Along with this, there will recommendations for further actions to contribute to better outcomes for tāngata whaikaha and whānau.

Equal access to wellbeing framework (draft)

Equal access to wellbeing framework (draft) is a knowledge and skills framework for mental health/addiction and disability workforces working in primary, secondary, and tertiary contexts. The draft is now available:

Download the Equal Access to Wellbeing draft framework in PDF format

Download the Equal Access to Wellbeing draft framework in Word format.

Equal access to wellbeing: feedback options

Thanks for your interest in the draft Equal access to wellbeing framework. Here are the key options for getting informed and providing feedback on the draft, please feel free to participate in as many options as you want to.

Online Presentation and Q&A sessions

We held two Q&A sessions to inform stakeholders about the key components of the draft and provide a forum for people to ask the project team questions. The sessions took place in early October

Online focus groups

Join with a small group of people from different locations and diverse experiences and contexts to discuss your views about key components of the draft.

Please register below.

Focus group 1: Tuesday 19 October - 11am – 12.30pm (registrations closed)

Focus group 2: Thursday 21 October - 1pm - 2:30pm

Focus group 3: Friday 5 November - 10am - 11:30am

Face-to-face and online hui and interviews for tāngata whaikaha, whānau and other key stakeholder groups and individuals

The Equal access to wellbeing team will be meeting with individuals and groups in the following locations. Please contact to find out more and book a meeting time.

  • Christchurch
  • Palmerston North
  • Wellington
  • Nelson
  • Waikato

Opportunities to engage in Tamaki Makaurau will be reviewed when COVID Levels change.

Online Survey

Take the online survey about the Equal access to wellbeing framework. Remember to read the draft first and/or attend one of our Presentation/Q&A sessions (details above).

Other enquiries

If you want to provide any other feedback, comment, or simply want to get in touch with the team, please contact us at If you have any other thoughts or queries please don’t hesitate to get touch.


The project has a wide range of stakeholders:

  • Tāngata whaikaha
  • Whānau
  • Health and disability workforce
  • Professional groups
  • Health and disability service providers
  • Direct experience advocates, eg disabled people’s organisations (DPOs)
  • Educational institutions

We will endeavor to engage with as many stakeholders as possible in the development of the framework as time and resources allow.


The project is being guided by co-design principles, including the participation of people with direct experience on the governance group and within the project team. The governance group also includes representatives from disabled people’s organisations, the health and disability workforces and their support agencies.


John Vogenthaler (Te Pou, Principal Advisor Disability) is the leading the team. The team includes direct experience members, project management specialists, researchers, and cultural advisors, each of whom have significant experience and expertise. Key team members include:

  • Rebecca Merrington (Te Pou, Project Support)
  • Gabby Hogg (Te Pou, Specialist ASD Consumer Advisor)
  • Philip Patston (Diversity Consultant and Managing Director Diversity NZ)
  • Gordon Boxall (Disability Services Contractor and Director - Weaving Thread)
  • Dr Martyn Matthews (Consultant in autism and developmental disabilities, Kestral Consulting)
  • Paula Parsonage (Independent Consultant, Health, Social Services, Disability)
  • Nigel Ngahiwi (Independent Contractor)

The team is also being supported by:

  • Kahurangi Fergusson-Tibble (Te Pou, Principal Advisor Māori)
  • Manase Lua (Te Pou, Principal Advisor Pasifika)
  • Dr Angela Jury (Te Pou, Research Manager)
  • Heather Kongs-Taylor (Te Pou, Evaluation Manager).


The project is planning to deliver an initial framework by December 2021.

To meet this aim, and to ensure that there has been appropriate engagement and consultation, the team will be taking an iterative approach to their work. This means that they will be checking in with key advisors and stakeholders throughout the development of the framework.


The team aims to present a draft of the framework to tāngata whaikaha, health and disability workforce representatives, and other key stakeholders around September this year.

The team will use this feedback to identify gaps, and revise and refine the framework.

It is likely that engagement will be a mixture of:

  • Direct engagement
  • On-line surveying
  • Workshops and/or focus groups

In engaging with individuals (tāngata whaikaha and whānau), the team will ensure informed consent processes are followed and they remain mindful of the need to ensure the safety of participants.

Project name

On reflection, and based on feedback, the project team and the governance group have decided to change the name of the project from the Dual disability project to Equal access to wellbeing.

The new name better reflects contemporary thinking, aligning with the social model of disability, and the aspirations of tāngata whaikaha.

Of course, the term dual disability is in wide use, and the project will address the specific needs of the 'dual disability' workforces, amongst others.

Get in touch

Email us at






Te Pou has a wide range of evidence-based resources and tools to help the mental health, addiction and disability workforces.

Learn More

Our work

Te Pou works alongside mental health and addiction services, and disability organisations to understand their priorities and workforce challenges.

Learn More