Home / Resources / Ministry of Health publications / Framework for Relations

Framework for Relations

between the Ministry of Health and Health/Disability Non-Government Organisations

 In 2013, the Ministry of Health affirmed its continued support for the Relationship Framework with NGOs (pdf, 2.7 MB)


In December 2001, Government signed a Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community-Government Relationship.  This statement envisages “strong and respectful relationships between government and community, voluntary and iwi/Maori organisations.  It articulates clear objectives for government agencies for an improved relationship with the community sector.

This document is a statement of the commitment of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Health/Disability Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to put that Government vision into practice.  It is not intended to be a legally binding document.  It is more appropriately described as a “written handshake”.  Its authority is derived from endorsement by the MOH and the NGOs through a process of active consultation and joint development.

In this document, NGOs include independent community, and iwi/Maori organisations operating on a not-for-profit basis, which bring a value to society that is distinct from both government and the market.  This framework recognises the vital contribution of unpaid workers in society, and the important role of NGOs in helping them to make that contribution through the direct provision of health and disability services (particularly disability support services, mental health services and Maori health services).

This document covers the following areas:

  • Objective
  • Government Statement of Principles
  • Particular areas where we will work together
  • Processes and Formalities


The main objective of this “written handshake” is to build a strong and respectful relationship between the MOH and the health/disability NGOs that will provide a vehicle for improving the quality of health and disability services and health outcomes. 

In setting this objective, it is recognised that NGOs contribute, in many and varied ways, to the development of healthy social environments and healthy communities.  The MOH will work to ensure that its relationship with health/disability NGOs is nurtured and protected. 

Government Statement of Principles

Government has stated that it is committed to developing relationships with community, voluntary and iwi/Maori organisations that:

  • Enable mutual interests to be achieved through co-operation
  • Respect the independence of community, voluntary and iwi/Maori organisations
  • Recognise and respect the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi
  • Demonstrate effective two-way communication
  • Involve leadership within the community sector and from government ministers
  • Acknowledge and support the positive role played by umbrella, national and strategic collective bodies
  • Embrace innovation and creativity
  • Respect and recognise cultural diversity
  • Are founded on public accountability and appropriately flexible good practice

The MOH and health/disability NGOs support these principles. 

It is expected that a strong and respectful relationship will provide a mutual benefit where there is a shared understanding of the knowledge, skills and expertise within NGOs, and an understanding of each others’ values, goals and strategies.

This relationship will require effective mechanisms that will provide opportunities for regular communication and feedback, meaningful consultation, building of knowledge, and NGO participation in developing and evaluating policy. 

Particular areas where we will work together

The MOH and the health/disability NGOs have been working with other government agencies to find “whole of government solutions” to issues raised by NGOs, as noted by the Community and Voluntary Sector Working Party in its April 2001 Summary Report. This framework fits with this inter-sectoral work.

The MOH and health/disability NGOs are jointly committed to working together, with due regard to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, to find solutions to health/disability issues that are knowledge based, people centred and system minded.


The MOH will aim to:

  • Communicate government direction and information to NGOs in plain language
  • Use a range of communication methods to reach a broad spectrum of NGOs
  • Signal key policy areas and how they impact on NGOs
  • Promote greater understanding throughout NGOs of health systems policy and development
  • Raise awareness within the MOH and within government organisations of the contribution made by NGOs 

NGOs will aim to:

  • Assist the MOH in understanding the key issues and trends affecting NGOs
  • Share information and research with the MOH
  • Provide NGO intelligence for input into policy development
  • Provide feedback from a community perspective on how communication to NGOs is working


The MOH will aim to: 

  • Consult with NGOs on key policy development
  • Create greater opportunities for NGO input into policy development by using multiple channels of communication
  • Educate NGOs on the opportunities available for participating in the development of health and disability national and district strategy and plans
  • Provide feedback on the consultation process

NGOs will aim to:

  • Assist the MOH in policy development
  • Provide feedback on the impact of policy on the consumer
  • Provide access to NGO grassroots networks
  • Advise the MOH on how consultative arrangements with NGOs are working

Capacity/capability Building

The MOH will aim to:

  • Collaborate across government departments on NGO issues and community initiatives
  • Disseminate information to NGOs that the MOH has access to through its international linkages and interdepartmental collaboration
  • Include NGOs in secondment opportunities for work experience and mentoring
  • Provide opportunities for NGOs to up-skill and network through forums and information sharing
  • Educate other parts of the health/disability sector on appropriate relationships with NGOs
  • Include an introduction on NGOs and the contribution they can make to policy development in the Ministry’s Policy Analyst training and induction programme

NGOs will aim to:

  • Provide input into MOH training programmes such as the induction for new staff and policy analyst training
  • Include MOH staff in secondment opportunities for work experience and mentoring

Processes and formalities


The relationship will be anchored by an NGO “desk” within the MOH, which will provide continuity and a link with the NGO related work of the MOH and other government departments.  Health/disability NGOs will develop their own co-ordinating function to facilitate the MOH/NGO relationship.  This arrangement will not preclude direct relationships between individual NGOs and the MOH.

The inclusive and open nature of the group

The relationship between NGOs/MOH will operate in an environment of trust and openness.  Communication such as emails can be forwarded to anyone interested, whether or not they have had previous involvement in the group.

The definition of who can be part of the group

NGOs will operate as an open group, whose membership is self defined.  A mandate is given to those NGO representatives who happen to be present at a meeting to make decisions for the group of NGOs (an underlying belief that the right people will come).


The NGOs will be represented by a reference group, which will have a rotating membership.  The NGO reference group will communicate regularly with the MOH on strategic issues for NGOs.  The reference group will ensure constancy in strategic conversations and provide momentum for ongoing improvement in health/disability outcomes.