It's called Mahi Tika – Equity in Employment, and it's the employment bit that disabled people in the Waikato region are keen to hear more about.
A who's who of Waikato's disability community was on hand to welcome Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni and Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero to formerly launch the programme in Hamilton this week.
Aimed at breaking down barriers to employment for disabled people, the programme will run for two years and has been developed by the Disabled Persons Assembly in partnership with Waikato Tainui.
A total of $250,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund has been set aside for the two-year project, with a further $250,000 being secured from a Trust Waikato Grant, giving the programme a $500,000 financial boost.
Just what that funding will be spent on and eligibility criteria remains unclear, but Waikato News understands that early goals for the programme is to place up to 25 disabled people in work or training.
For Carmel Sepuloni, the area of employment is no small issue for the disability community and called Mahi Tika a "special" beginning.
"This really is no small issue," Sepuloni said. "It is complex because as an issue it hasn't been resolved yet but I'm confident that Mahi Tika will deliver better outcomes for the disability community in the Waikato."
Believing that the importance of focusing on disabled people gaining employment has been underestimated for some time, Sepuloni cited that the employment rate for disabled people currently sits at 24 per cent compared to 72 per cent of non-disabled.
"We haven't had enough of a discussion about the unemployment rate of disabled people and it will be crucial to partner with enthusiastic and effective employers who are key stakeholders in delivering those positive outcomes and we are keen to see local action taken because these are important in identifying what works so we can enable similar programmes across the country."
Day to day running of the programme will be headed by well-known advocates with lived experiences of disability, Rodney Bell and former Hamilton City Council candidate Tim Young.
DPA chief executive Prudence Walker will oversee the programme and says the untapped skills of disabled people are a benefit to prospective employers.
"Disabled people are an untapped source of skills and talent," Walker said. "Employers benefit from having a diverse workforce and this programme focuses on empowering disabled people in the Waikato region to be working or training in the industry of their choice while supporting them to become mentors to other disabled people."
The first round of information sessions about the programme to be held online next Thursday.
About 290,000 people aged between 15-64 with access, support, or health needs are currently unemployed in New Zealand, making up for 74 per cent of disabled people according to government data.