Laura Fergusson Trust Incorporated was established by Lady Laura Fergusson and Lady Mary Caughey in 1967, to provide support services to disabled people.
Our founders’ vision was to assist and encourage disabled people towards achieving their full potential and independence in daily living.
For over 50 years this vision was realised through many evolutions in society, policy, medical knowledge, the growing use of technology and increasing understanding of disability. The way we look at disability in New Zealand has also changed significantly over this time.
New Zealand’s disability sector is undergoing a once-in-a-generation shift, driven by new policy underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Te Tiriti o Waitangi and ensuring disabled people are involved in decision-making that impacts them.
To secure a strong financial future for the Trust, we must adapt to support disabled people in a way that reflects this sector transformation. This includes transforming LFT Auckland to a social investment agency model, led by people with lived experience of disability.
We will continue to build on our founders’ legacy through sustainable initiatives that remove barriers and create new opportunities for disabled people. Our vision is an equitable society for disabled New Zealanders.
You can read about our current initiatives here.
Watch a short video about our vision and purpose:
Disability Sector Changes Timeline:
World War Two ends, many soldiers return to New Zealand with physical and mental disabilities
Laura Fergusson Trust for Disabled Persons (Auckland) Incorporated is formed
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons signalled a new era of international disability rights including in New Zealand
Accident Compensation Act provides no-fault compensation and rehabilitation for injury caused by accident in NZ
Report of the Royal Commission into Psychopaedic Hospitals recommended closure of the big institutions and shift to community care; became government policy
The United Nations declared 1981 the International Year of Disabled Persons. In New Zealand, funds raised by a Telethon went towards the establishment of Teletext, Total Mobility services and other services benefitting disabled people.
Human Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability. Disabled Peoples Assembly (DPA) worked in coalition with gay rights groups to win this human rights struggle for both groups.
First Minister for Disability Issues is appointed (Hon Ruth Dyson).
New Zealand Disability Strategy published. The Strategy was based on the social model of disability, which distinguishes between impairments (which people have) and disability (which lies in their experience of barriers to participating in society).
The Office for Disability Issues is established to focus on disability across government and lead the Disability Strategy implementation and monitoring
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) completed. NZ and New Zealanders took a leading role in its development. NZ signed it on 30 March 2007, and ratified it in September 2008.
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) became NZ’s third official language
The IHC began a 13-year legal battle for “disabled children’s rights to a proper education in mainstream schools”
Name change Laura Fergusson Trust Incorporated trading as Laura Fergusson Rehabilitation
Enabling Good lives principles developed, leading to New Model and Mana Whaikaha (2017) demonstration projects
Disability Survey reveals 24% of population is disabled
NZ signs Optional Protocol of CRPD meaning individuals can take cases to the UN
New Zealander Robert Martin was elected to UN Committee, making history as the first person with a learning disability elected onto a United Nations Treaty Body
Manaaki Pakeke, a landmark report by the Māori Council was released, highlighting that much more needs to be done for Māori who are aging, elderly or disabled
Sir Robert Martin becomes the first New Zealander with a learning disability to receive a Knighthood
Minister for Disability Issues committed to bringing comprehensive Disability legislation before the house
Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, launched in July 2022. The health and disability funding model is under review as a part of the Labour Government’s health sector transformation