A researcher says a climate of fear is preventing volunteers speaking out about the poor living conditions for disabled people in residential care.
Dr Sandra Grey's comments follow calls for the Ministry of Health to change its culture after the closure of a residential care home south of Auckland.
Leaked audit reports show the residents at the Parklands home were poorly fed and abused by untrained staff. The facility was closed by the ministry last year.
Dr Grey, a senior lecturer at Victoria University, says research she co-authored found many voluntary organisations are fearful of going against the Government.
"Groups are telling us 'we won't take that case, we won't take that information to the Ministry of Health at the moment because we're waiting for a really big contract and we want to make sure that we get the contract before we say anything that's too controversial'."
She says that is of particular concern for the health and disability sector, which involves people who are often marginalised.