Skip to main content

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

Equitable Access to Wellbeing

People with learning disabilities and/or autistic individuals 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 have been caught between disability and mental health sectors, often resulting in them falling through the gaps and losing out both ways.

Te Pou is leading the mahi

Te Pou, on behalf of Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People, is leading the Equitable Access to Wellbeing project which is contributing towards better opportunities and outcomes for disabled people experiencing mental distress.

The overarching aim of this work is to provide resources and initiatives that strengthen the workforce to support people with lived experience and their whānau.

The Equitable Access to Wellbeing framework

The key resource that has been developed is the Equitable Access to Wellbeing framework.

The Equitable Access to Wellbeing framework is a knowledge and skills framework for mental health, addiction, and disability workforces working in primary, secondary, and tertiary contexts.

The framework was released on 19 October 2022 and is available in several different formats that ensure that it is accessible to all.

You can also watch key recordings from the framework launch event.

Stakeholder engagement

Te Pou called for stakeholder feedback on the framework between September and December 2021.

Feedback on the draft framework demonstrated resounding support for the framework and its principles.

All stakeholders that engaged with the consultation were clear that the framework is a welcome first step in addressing critical gaps in the knowledge and skills of the mental health, addiction, and disability workforces in addressing the mental health needs of tāngata whaikaha.

Love the framework, it outlines what should be best practice in care and support.

It is an important and vital piece of work to help the workforces think about the mental health of people with disabilities.

This is a solid workforce development framework. Overall feels on point, and it feels that there is an opportunity for workforce to grow. I really like the indicators with each level in the framework, the principles and the specific skills required.

The full Equitable Access for Wellbeing stakeholder consultation report is available for review.

Governance and co-creation

The project has been guided by co-design principles, including the participation of people with direct experience participating on the governance group and within the project team. The governance group also includes members who can advise from Māori and Pasifika perspectives, clinicians, and other workforce leaders and representatives from disabled people’s organisations, the health and disability workforces and their support agencies. Members of the governance group are:

  • John Vogenthaler (Te Pou - Principal Advisor Disability) - Chair
  • Gabby Hogg (Te Pou - Specialist ASD Consumer Advisor)
  • Philip Patston (Diversity Consultant and Managing Director Diversity NZ)
  • Alexia Black (Balance Aotearoa - Representing the Disabled Person's Organisations Coalition)
  • Chris Tilley (People First – Lived experience advocate - Representing the Disabled People's Organisation Coalition)
  • Dr Sione Vaka (Senior Lecturer at Auckland University of Technology)
  • Rickardt van Dyk (Senior Psychologist, Idea Services)
  • Paul Holmes (Direct experience advocate)

Equitable Access to Wellbeing experts

John Vogenthaler (Te Pou, Principal Advisor Disability) leads this group of direct experience experts, project management specialists, researchers, clinicians, 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)

Get in touch

If you want to provide questions, comments, or simply want to get in touch with the team, please contact John Vogenthaler at