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Supporting disabled New Zealanders to find and keep work

There are a number of programmes to support disabled people and people with health conditions to prepare for, find and stay in work. Services may be tailored to the individual’s needs and goals. We contract community-based organisations to provide specialist employment supports for disabled people and people with health conditions who require more intensive support.

Labour work
  • There are currently 36 Supported Employment Services in New Zealand that help disabled people find sustainable work in the open labour market
  • In 2018/19 Supported Employment Service providers placed 4,310 participants into employment

Oranga Mahi

The cross-agency Oranga Mahi programme was established in 2016 to deliver a set of cross-agency prototypes in partnership with several District Health Boards (DHBs) and Primary Healthcare Organisations throughout New Zealand. Over the past three years we have worked with health agencies to gain valuable insights about how to partner to improve outcomes for clients living with health conditions or disabilities.

Individual Placement Support

This is an evidence-based practice run with the Waitemata DHB that integrates employment and mental health services to support people with severe mental health conditions to find and stay in work. The prototype has shown positive results by supporting people with strategies to manage their mental health conditions. Since it was established in May 2018 as a 12-month prototype and in July 2019 as a trial, a total of 80 people have been supported.

Rakau Rangatira

This kaupapa Māori- and Whānau Ora-based programme integrates social and health interventions to increase opportunities for employment and recovery for people with mild to moderate mental health conditions and a history of substance abuse. The programme has supported 89 clients, with 16 entering full-time employment since the prototype started in July 2017.


This phone- and web-based support service provided by Homecare Medical aims to improve clients’ emotional wellbeing and reduce the likelihood of their health conditions developing or becoming worse. It is open to all clients located in our Southern, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Wellington regions, and has recently been extended to include clients participating in Mana in Mahi who are receiving the In-Work Support service. Since it was established in July 2018 a total of 67 clients had their overall wellbeing supported.


This 12-week programme run by the Waikato DHB allows clients to engage with a key Work and Living Well Coach to reduce long-term welfare dependency. A number of clients have been referred to the programme and outcomes have been positive – 22 clients have come off benefit.

Robert* had just left university, and his existing anxiety and depression had intensified. Things started to change for Robert when we referred him to REACH. The 12-week programme pairs a person with a health professional and a coach, as well as their doctor and case manager, with the aim of getting them ready for work. Robert finished the programme and said the “boots on the ground” style of support helped him move from a negative head space to working full-time in his field, computer science.

*Not his real name.

Enabling Good Lives

Enabling Good Lives is a partnership between the disability sector and government agencies (MSD and the Ministry of Health) to ensure that disabled people have greater control over their lives. This includes having a say in how resources are used. It creates opportunities for family, whānau and friends to gain the skills, confidence and information they need to support disabled people to live an everyday life in everyday places.

This innovative, world-leading governance model is operating with a single vision at individual, regional and national levels. Challenges have been addressed with patience and mutual respect and by allowing space for everyone – including disabled people, officials, support worker unions, and management representatives from service providers, to reach common ground.

The vision and hard work of the disability community and the government sector was recognised with the Leadership in Governance Award at the State Services Commission’s 2019 Spirit of Service Awards.

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