A Different Light –18th March 2023 – “Disabled people and whanau need to be in the driving seat of Enabling Good Lives”

Downloadable: A Different Light –18th March 2023 – Disabled people and whanau need to be in the driving seat of Enabling Good Lives

EGL. Extremely Good Luck? Extraordinarily Good Looking? Extra Good Lie In? Oh, no, no, no.  If you’re disabled, whanau of a person with a disability or a service provider for the community of disability, you need to get with the programme: Enabling Good Lives.

Yes, another enigmatic acronym for the community to wrap its collective head around.  Let me try and explain it.

EGL is a broad aspirational concept that heralds a new approach in providing disability support services. It’s new but it’s origins date way back to 2008 when concerns arose in a report in the Social Services Select Committee during its “Inquiry into the quality of care and services provision for disabled people”.

The core concerns in the report included the multiple eligibility and planning processes required in order to access different types of support from several different agencies and disabled people being allocated existing services that didn’t necessarily work for them. Disability services had become the centre of their lives rather than helping them to connect to the kind of community supports that are available to everyone.

Three years later another report was produced for the then Minister of Disability Issues Tariana Turia. The report was produced by a working group of disabled people and their whanau, with support from the Office of Disability Issues and the Ministry of Social Development. This working group came up with a new approach to providing disability support services. The name of this approach was the same as the title of the report, and thus was born, ta da… ‘Enabling Good Lives!

Dame Tariana then instructed the Ministry involved to progress Enabling Good Lives (EGL). The new approach was then trialled in three geographical ‘Demonstration Sites’; the Waikato, Mid Central (North Island) and Christchurch. The rest of New Zealand has been waiting for years, wondering when their turn would be to experience the fruits of EGL.

Last year the shiny, brand new year Ministry of Disabilities -Whaikaha was born. With it was declaration that EGL would be implemented nationwide. EGL is based on 8 principles: Self- Determination, Beginning Early, Person-Centred, Ordinary Life Outcomes, Mainstream First, Mana Enhancing, Easy to Use, and Relationship Building.

A key objective of EGL is that disabled Individuals and their families will have input into designing and governing  systems, supports and services. This will be achieved through both the National EGL Leadership Group and Regional Leadership Groups.

National EGL Leadership Group (NEGL) is tasked to be the community guardian (kaitiaki) of the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach, vision and principles. NEGL is therefore responsible to promote the EGL approach across government and throughout the disability community.

There will also be Regional Leadership Groups (RLG) throughout New Zealand. The purpose of the purpose of the RLG  is to build local leadership, contribute to ongoing co-design work and local implementation, to promote and protect Enabling Good Lives (EGL) principles and values, to provide feedback to the Minister and to connect with the National EGL Leadership Group.

It is important for Northland to have a strong Regional Leadership Group with Disabled People and their whanau at the helm.  That is why Tiaho Trust is holding an EGL Forum this Tuesday 21 March with two guest speakers from the National EGL Leadership Group for Disabled people and their whanau to attend.

With such aspirational principles and ambitious goals, it can be hard to comprehend how EGL will take shape in Northland. One thing  I am certain about is that Disabled people and whanau need to be in the driving seat of Enabling Good Lives in Tai Tokerau.


Jonny Wilkinson is the CEO of Tiaho Trust – Disability A Matter of Perception, a Whangarei based disability advocacy organisation.