Update on the Disability Survey

This section provides information on the Disability Survey and why its frequency will be reduced from running every five years to instead every 10 years.

At a consultation workshop on the proposed enduring questions in Wellington on 17 August 2016, it was agreed that Statisitics NZ and the Office for Disability Issues would provide an update on what happened with the Disability Survey and what happens next. The update follows.

In 2012 the Government agreed the Statistics NZ forward work programme

In 2012 the Government agreed funding for the Statistics New Zealand’s forward work programme of official social and population statistics. Given the need to plan for the collection of statistics well in advance, this agreement covered a period of 10 years. The forward work programme covers all of the social statistics produced by Statistics NZ including:

  • Employment
  • Income
  • Expenditure
  • Wealth
  • Family
  • Housing
  • Maori
  • Education
  • Wellbeing
  • Disability

This included agreeing to alternate the Disability Survey and the Maori Social Survey

Funding allocations were made to match the Government's priorities for information at that time. (Note: statistics produced from the population census are funding separately). This funding allowed for only one post-census survey to be run after each 5 yearly population census. It was decided at the time to alternate the Maori Social Survey and Disability Survey, with the Maori Social Survey being the first cab off the rank to follow the 2018 census.

Even though the Disability Survey has been carried out since 1996, it has never been part of the on-going forward work programme for Statistics NZ. The previous funding allocation, covering the 10 years from 2004 to 2014, allowed for the 2006 and 2013 Disability Surveys.

The consultation process that informed advice to Government at the time could have been better

While there was consultation on the overall programme and priorities that informed the advice from Statistics NZ to Government, there was no specific consultation with interested sector groups, such as the disability sector.

After the consultation and the decision by the Government, it was communicated to the stakeholders that had been involved in the consultation.

Statistics NZ acknowledges that it failed to consult with interested sector groups and to inform them specifically of the outcomes that affected them. This was not ideal and could have been handled better to provide greater transparency.

Statistics NZ will ensure there is consultation with the disability sector in future

It is important to Statistics NZ that disabled people and the disability sector get to have a say on things that impact on them. In future, Statistics NZ will ensure there is appropriate consultation with the disability sector on issues relating to the collection of statistics about disabled people. Statistics NZ will also work with the Office for Disability Issues, as the government’s focal point on disability issues.

The Disability Data and Evidence Working Group, which is co-chaired by Statistics NZ and the Office for Disability Issues is helping to ensure that decisions on the collection of statistics and evidence about disabled people, is informed by the views of the disability sector. This includes for example, the recent consultation on Enduring Questions (the long-term data needs about disabled people).

There will be more consultation with the disability sector on the development of a Disability Data and Evidence Plan. This will identify what needs to be done to ensure the right information about disabled people is collected to inform decision-making. The next steps on this process are currently being worked through following consultation on the Enduring Questions.

Improvements in the collection of statistics about disabled are already being made

While national disability surveys provide the most comprehensive source of statistics about the lives of disabled people, there are other sources of information that are needed too. Making sure disabled people are included in other household surveys is important as it helps build a wider picture about the lives of disabled people. It also ensures disabled people are visible and counted.

The Disability Data and Evidence Working Group has already helped Statistics NZ to make improvements in the inclusion of disabled people in other household surveys. Disability will be included in the:

  • General Social Survey from 2016
  • Household Labour Force Survey from mid-2017

Information on disabled people from the census is not published

A lot of people have asked about what questions have been included in the census on disability. Until now, a couple of disability questions have been asked in the census. However these have only been included to help Statistics NZ identify who they could ask to complete the Disability Survey; this means they were only included to help provide a sample of the population for follow-up.

The information from these questions is not published because they were designed only to provide the sample for the survey. This means they measure something different to the questions in the Disability survey. To avoid confusion of having different measures available only the Disability survey results are published.

However it might be possible to include information on disability in the next census

Statistics NZ is doing some testing at the moment of a new set of disability questions to see if disability can be included in the 2018 Census. (Note: testing is an important part of statistics, it helps make sure the right questions are asked in the right way). The Government Statistician will make a decision on this in 2017.

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