What is the New Zealand Disability Support Network?

The New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN) is an incorporated society of members, represented by a Board of Governance.

NZDSN was formed in 2010 and is a network of not-for-profit organisations and some for-profit NGOs that provide support services to disabled people, mainly through contracts with government.

NZDSN takes a pan-disability perspective on the sector.

NZDSN is governed by a Board elected from the wider membership, and is serviced by a full-time Chief Executive and a small, mainly part-time support team.

NZDSN builds its work around six core documents:

  1. The Treaty of Waitangi
  2. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  3. The Enabling Good Lives Principles
  4. The Disability Action Plan 2014-2016
  5. New Zealand Disability Strategy
  6. The ASENZ Supported Employment Principles


An inclusive New Zealand where all disabled people are included and valued, their human rights are promoted and protected, and they are supported and encouraged to maximise their potential.


NZDSN believes that the human rights of disabled people must be promoted and protected and that when injustices occur that we have an absolute responsibility as individuals and as disability service proviers to intervene and ensure people are safe.

NZDSN believes that all people should have the ability to realise their potential in the society where they live and have equal chances for success in life.

NZDSN believes in the value of diversity of people in society and that diversity must be respected and actively nurtured in disability services.

NZDSN believes that strong constructive relationships are the foundation of our work. We are committed to the development and maintenance of collaborative solution-focused relationships with our members; government and the other community agencies. In all our dealings with others we will be transparent, accountable and conduct ourselves with integrity.


To lead and influence change that supports inclusive lives

  1. Disabled people are in control of their lives and supports are tailored around their interests, preferences and goals
  2. Disabled people and their families are supported to imagine and articulate what a good life might look like for them and how this can be achieved
  3. People with disabilities and their families have choice and control about the services they receive
  4. Support services are simple, easy to access, are the least restrictive they can be, and make things easier for the disabled person
  5. Supports meet the continuum of need and are responsive to peoples changing needs and aspirations over time
  6. Communities, including employers, are welcoming and inclusive of disabled people.
  7. The contributions of disabled people and families are valued, and supports provided enhance their mana


  1. To provide a strong voice to government on matters of common interest.
  2. To support and maintain strong networks in the provider sector.
  3. To ensure effective communication with members.
  4. To keep abreast of emerging trends and promote current best-practice standards
  5. To actively promote the continuous improvement of disability services and foster the ongoing development of skills, knowledge and capacity of members.
  6. To work collaboratively with disabled people, their families and allied agencies to foster an inclusive society

Strategic Outcomes

Disability issues are a priority for government. NZDSN will:
  • The Disability Action Plan
  • The Enabling Good Lives Principles
  • Employment
  • Gain contracts with Government for advice (MSD, MoE)
  • Provide representation and undertake project work on:
  • Effectively influence Government in relation to the Select Committee recommendations
The support service sector is well connected and networked. NZDSN will:
  • Work in partnership with DPOs and family groups
  • Deliver events that foster connections and networking at a regional and national level
  • Function to promote mentoring and coaching opportunities within the sector
  • Network with other peak bodies
Providers have a focus on quality service delivery, current best practice, evidence and innovation. NZDSN will:
  • Ensure workshops, seminars and conferences promote quality service provision, evidence based practice and innovation, utilising national and international expertise
  • Encourage and influence robust and independent evaluation of government led initiatives eg new model, IF, EGL
  • Work with MoH and MSD to foster genuine service improvement activities, including peer review
  • Foster and share current best practice and evidence that is meaningful and useful to members
  • Lead projects related to the recommendations of the Putting People First Report
Disabled people and families value the expertise and capability of support service providers and the workforce. NZDSN will:
  • Partner with key stakeholders (Te Pou, Careerforce etc) to ensure focus on workforce issues, and provide feedback to Government
NZDSN will demonstrate leadership by modelling inclusive practice in its various activities and events. NZDSN will:
  • Work to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities and families in forums and conferences
  • Consult people with disabilities and families on key issues

Meet Our Team

Staff Members
Garth Bennie

Chief Executive

Garth joined NZDSN in January 2015 and since then has led NZDSN into a new era of closer ties with Government and across providers. Garth has a wealth of experience in and around the disability sector with 15 years at the Ministry of Education as a District Manager for Special Education.

His career began at IHC in both vocational and residential settings where he trained as a social worker and since then he has held a variety of roles coordinating, managing, researching and developing disability services and policy. He gained his PhD on disability studies particularly focussing on supported employment.

Sue (3)
Sue Eastwood

Office Manager

Sue joined NZDSN in August 2014 to assist with the transition of the existing administration position into the current Office Manager role.

Sue provides the day to day management and coordination of the NZDSN office. She is passionate about the sector and providing NZDSN members with the best possible administrative service she can.

In her spare time, Sue enjoys gardening, reading and entertaining.

Sara Georgeson

Policy Analyst

Sara Georgeson works with NZDSN as a policy analyst. She has a background in social work, tertiary education and disability support services, and more recently in project management and policy roles. Her most recent roles before joining NZDSN were with the Ministry of Health’s National Health Committee secretariat as a policy analyst, and then with CCS Disability Action where she led a project to update the Mobility Parking Permit Scheme.

Sara has a particular interest in disability rights and strategic issues. She is an experienced consumer advisor and has strong connections in the health and disability sectors. In addition to working with NZDSN Sara is on the Social Work Registration Board and is the Deputy Chairperson of the HDC Consumer Advisory Group.

Libby Carson

Communications & Marketing

Libby brings to NZDSN her specialist management expertise. Libby comes from a corporate background and has held a number of leadership, executive, project, change and event management roles in both the commercial and not for profit sector.

Libby brings her vast expertise to NZDSN as a contractor and assists with organising the NZDSN Annual Conference and providing marketing and communications support.

Mireille (2)
Mireille Vreeburg

Auckland Executive Facilitator

Mireille has a BA Degree Facility Management and 15+ years’ experience in Marketing Communications in the Education, Publishing and Childcare sectors and was also trained as an NLP trainer in The Netherlands. In 2007 she and her family, including 9-year- old triplets moved to New Zealand permanently. Trained as an accredited Life & Business Coach by the Neuroleadership Group, she started her business Coacha Ltd.

NZDSN has contracted Mireille to assist with leading and influencing change that supports inclusive lives. Acting as a conduit between Auckland regional service providers and NZDSN Head Office, a key component of her role is to communicate issues and developments and connect with both Auckland members and wider networks. She organises quarterly regional sector network meetings, writes the Auckland regional news for the National NZDSN newsletter and hosts a series of Auckland based NZDSN workshops and training events for their Provider Development Programme.

Board Members
Sharon Saxton - Photo
Sharon Saxton

NZDSN Board Chair

2019 Karen Scott
Karen Scott

Employment Committee Chair

Simone Molenaar
Simone Molennar
Pip Stewart
Pip Stewart
Sean Stowers
Sean Stowers
Tania Thomas Photo 2
Tania Thomas

Tui Tuia Committee Chair

Mike Brummitt
Arnah Trelease (2)
Arnah Trelease
Carissa Pereira
Carissa Pereira

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