A notable issue we have in Aotearoa is that individuals and minority groups with disabilities pass through the system unnoticed. To this day, little data has been collected and analysed to show how disabled people use and access disability services, and with what outcomes. 

In late 2020, Precision Driven Health (PDH) partnered with Manawanui and Nicholson Consulting to undertake a segmentation analysis for Manawanui which will help better understand New Zealanders who receive Individualised Funding (IF) for disability services throughout Aotearoa. With PDH’s collaboration model and Nicholson Consulting’s data science experience to design services, the partnership aimed to assist Manawanui in its mission to empower people through improved services. 

A highlight of this research is it being a disability-led initiative, where people with lived disabilities have contributed to and led the research process. Among these individuals was Dr Huhana Hickey, a New Zealand Māori Human Rights and Disability Lawyer who lives with multiple sclerosis. She is the first Māori woman, second Māori and first disabled person to complete a PhD in law at the University of Waikato. Being a Manawanui client herself, Dr Hickey was eager to participate in this exploratory research. She explains that it is not uncommon for disabled indigenous people in New Zealand to suffer from social exclusion and discrimination. 

Dr Huhana Hickey
Photo: Ryan Anderson/Stuff

“This is why I was able to look at different ethnicities that sit on the outside and figure out how we can bring them in because they often miss out,” she explains. 

When asking Dr Hickey what significance this research would have, she explains that no transformative change could take place until we obtain data to understand the current statistics in place. 

“Everyone talks about the number 24 percent but no one explains what that means,” she says. 

“Even within the demographics, for example, 24% of non-Māori will have a disability. While for Māori, 33% will have a disability and when they reach the age of 40, 68% will have gained a disability. We need to have data on current statistics simply for that reason, so we can explain “why is this higher” or “why are these lower” and then we can find solutions,” says Hickey. 

What has the research shown so far? 

Neil Browning, Chief Digital Officer of Manawanui, says the research is still in its dissemination phase. However, it is a step in the right direction toward improving the services and access to these services for disabled communities and minorities. He points out that Māori are underrepresented in the disability data and so they aren’t accessing disability services as effectively as they could be. When Manawanui conducted a self-direction wānanga in Ōpōtiki, they supported more than 20 families to be able to access support services from that small region alone.

“These families came from the rural community and engaged with Manawanui. We helped them come on to IF as a solution and before that, pretty much none of them had received support. Ōpōtiki is only one small area; if you extrapolate that out, that’s hundreds and hundreds of Māori families across the country. The work we’re going to do in other regions going forward will only confirm this,” Browning explains. 

According to the research, there are significant regional variations in who accesses support and how much they are allocated. The data also showed differences in allocations between some NASCs in the disability sector; so the amount of money a person will receive depends on where they live in the country. Manawanui plans to examine this further once they are back in the Stats New Zealand Data Lab. 

Browning explains the initial research was a foundation piece that created more questions that need answering. “We discovered that middle-aged women have been a head-scratcher in the research, we could not figure out why they have shown to be underrepresented in the IF population. We still need to figure out a means of targeting and better understanding this segment, which we hope to eventually do in the Stats New Zealand Data Lab.” 

What else is next for Manawanui? 

Manawanui has refined the way they target partners and clients, and they are doing more in the Māori health space. As part of their annual plan, they plan on conducting a self-direction wānanga at a marae each quarter and recently undertook one in Ōpōtiki which Browning explains was a success. They plan to kick off an initiative with the Pacific Island community early next calendar year to better engage with this community. When it comes to future research, they will be investigating how the overall IF population compares to those within Manawanui, and what the difference is in the uptake of IF with other providers.

About Manawanui
Manawanui is the leading facilitator and largest individualised funding host provider in Aotearoa. They currently support over 5,000 people to self-direct their own supports and create their own good life, as they want to define it. Manawanui believes that self-direction is a human right, not simply another available option, and that all people should have choice, control and flexibility over the ‘supports’ they require on a day to day basis. We exist to maximize people’s independence and support them to be fully participating members of their communities and society as a whole. Find out more at www.manawanui.org.nz.

About Nicholson Consulting
Nicholson Consulting is a medium-sized, multi-disciplinary analytics consultancy, with a big footprint, and a bigger heart. We provide specialised analytical solutions that are easy to understand, implement and maintain. Find out more at www.nicholsonconsulting.co.nz.