2005 Annual Review
Issued on June 1 2006
The year under review will be remembered for the enactment of the Disability Act 2005.
The Act, as part of the wider National Disability Strategy, is affecting positive change which is impacting on public policy and service provision. This process will no doubt be slow and frustrating. The reforms that mainstreaming requires will not come soon enough for many disabled people.
DFI continued to operate in a strategic and focused way throughout the year, given its broad disability remit and having regard to the mainstreaming agenda. I want to briefly focus on a few areas, namely the National Disability Strategy, population health, Social Partnership, health service reform and capacity building in organisations.
Since the publication of the Disability Bill with the announcement of the National Disability Strategy in September 2004, DFI has given strong and committed leadership and has worked consistently to ensure that the measures being proposed would fully enable people with disabilities to be 'Equal Citizens' in our State. We sought to have a statutory duty placed on each Government department to plan and design public services so as to ordinarily include people with disabilities. DFI was successful in getting a commitment from Government that all legislative and policy matters coming to Government will be disability proofed. This commitment was achieved through the sustained effort of DFI.
Our Discussion Paper, 'Disability and Population Health' (2005), and the associated Conference, brought into focus the need to consider the provision of the necessary specialist personal social services within the context of the general health and well being status of people with disabilities and disabling conditions. This is a critical debate in the context of mainstreaming and health service reform, and one which DFI is also promoting through the Department of Health and Children's strategic review of health services for people with disabilities.
The past year should have seen our preparation for Social Partnership renegotiation culminate in the negotiation process. Nevertheless, DFI worked up its positions and had them endorsed by the National Council. DFI is conscious of the importance of the National Disability Strategy in relation to Social Partnership, and through our participation in the Community and Voluntary Pillar we have, no doubt, influenced the NESC analysis of the challenges facing Ireland in implementing the National Disability Strategy.
Over the past number of years we have worked to deepen and expand the capacity of organisations in our sector by providing, or ensuring the provision of, supports to their administration, management and governance functions. To coincide with our 2005 AGM we held a Seminar, 'Challenging Times', which was addressed by Minister Eamon O'Cuiv, TD, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. We also held advisory, briefing and training sessions for organisations throughout the year. We have continued to prepare for charity legislation and regulatory reform and to seek resources for organisational capacity building within the sector. We are conscious of the strong relationship between the effectiveness of governance and management systems and the quality and appropriateness of activities and services undertaken by organisations. In this regard our Strategic Plan has also committed us to reviewing our own governance system, and work has commenced in this regard.
In my last report, I expressed concerns in relation to the approach of the NDA to the voluntary disability sector. It is only right that I should now note that DFI no longer has such concerns and we look forward to a strong and effective working relationship between both organisations.
I wish to thank my fellow board members for their role in guiding the work of the Federation throughout the year. Each of us on the board acts in a voluntary capacity, bringing sector-wide experience and perspective to the role. I would like to mention in particular my fellow officers, Marie Lynch, Vice Chairperson, and Geraldine Clare, Honorary Treasurer, for their particular support and work.
During the year a number of Board members retired, namely, David Burke, Focus Ireland, Eithne Frost, Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association, and Bernie Murphy, Headway Ireland. I wish to thank them for their service and support. I welcome also new members to the Board during the year, Donal Danagher, Tipperary CIL, and Paul Ledwidge, St Michael's House.
Many other people throughout the membership of DFI work on a regular basis to provide voluntary service to the Federation's mission. They too are to be acknowledged and thanked. I specifically want to note the work which our representatives across the Physical and Sensory Co-Ordinating Committees have done on behalf of the wider membership.
Finally, I would like to thank our Chief Executive, John Dolan, and staff members, for their continued dedication to ensuring that the objectives of the Disability Federation of Ireland are achieved.
John Saunders Chairperson