2009 Annual Review
Issued on December 31 2009
The Board emphasised that the implementation of the 2009 Plan would reference the hugely changed environment. In this regard, key elements were identified, namely, the funding situation, achieving efficiencies, reformation in the way that organisations engage with others, and the importance of DFI giving leadership and support. Furthermore it was appreciated that DFI needed to focus in a number of directions. On the one hand remaining close and relevant to its membership, while at the same time maximising its influence on Government and its agencies in making decisions that will impact on the lives of people with disabilities over the next five to ten years.
With that as the context, the plan of work for the year took shape around a number of core areas. Firstly, we were aware of the need to protect and advance the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) and to provide practical and relevant support services to our membership. The Renewed Programme for Government recommitted Government to protecting the NDS and in particular to developing a plan to protect and advance the Strategy throughout the recession.
Secondly, significant progress was made in developing a range of services for organisations through the development of the Service Suite. These were important developments for DFI, and areas that we worked on continually throughout the year.
Thirdly, DFI continued to work with other key disability organisations in calling on Government to protect the NDS and through developing “Memorandum of Understanding” documents with the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and CIL Carmichael House. These clearly demonstrated DFI”s ongoing efforts to give leadership and to support cohesion across the voluntary disability sector.
All of the above were supported by developments at Board and corporate services level. The Board continued to give attention to the development of the Board Governance Manual, which was progressed during the year, and an advanced draft was considered. In parallel with this, the CEO participated in the “Stronger Leaders Programme”, which provided governance training and support over a nine month period. The CEO”s participation was supported by the Board, and two members of the Board participated in the module designed for Board members. Furthermore the Board, having made a decision to introduce the Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO) into DFI, undertook an Organisational Healthcheck at Board level with the PQASSO consultant, as a preliminary action. In parallel with developing tools for our organisations we also introduced these tools to assist with our own governance and management.
Other notable activities were the signing of our Service Level Agreement with the HSE, and the decision to undertake a review of our financial systems and operations.
Throughout this Annual Review you will identify progress made across three distinct areas, namely, providing enhanced services and supports to members, primarily through developments to the Service Suite, getting a commitment in the “Renewed Programme for Government” on protecting the NDS throughout the recession and, mainly through that work, giving leadership and coherence to the task of progressing the needs of people with disabilities and disabling conditions at this very difficult time.
These are all examples of the Board systematically responding to its governance responsibilities. From the start of the year the Board gave a strong lead, as set out above, in determining the shape and orientation of the Annual Plan, and this continued throughout with regular reviews of the Plan, which were also supported by an external evaluator. Three National Council meetings were held at which the Board reported on progress towards implementing the Annual Plan in the context of the Strategic Plan.
This has been a year where more demands were made on the Board in relation to planning and governance issues. I wish to acknowledge, and to state my appreciation for, the work and support of all members of the Board. It is important to be aware that Board members have to operate from the perspective of DFI”s vision and mission, having regard to the full membership while, at the same time, carrying the responsibilities and issues of their own organisations on a day to day basis.
Before I conclude, I want to thank my fellow Directors and particularly to acknowledge the support that they have provided. In particular I mention the former Chairperson, Geraldine Clare, who resigned on taking up new employment last August. Around the same time, Niall Keane former Chairperson and Honorary Treasurer for two terms and long standing member of the Board, also resigned. On behalf of all members of DFI I wish to thank them for their service and contribution to DFI. During the year we welcomed two new Directors to the Board, namely Cliodhna O”Neill and George Kennedy, and their service and perspectives are much appreciated.
Apart from preparation for and attendance at meetings, the Directors have also reported to the National Council through its meetings and participated on two Board sub committees dealing with property purchase and the development of the governance manual. As Directors of DFI we are all conscious of our obligation to have regard for the well being of the Federation and to carefully mind its interests on behalf of you, the members of the company. DFI is also well served by many people from our membership organisations and beyond, who actively engage in work to support the objectives of the Federation.
I also wish to acknowledge and thank the staff team and the CEO for what was a very challenging year for them, during which both the Board and membership were, and continue to be, more reliant on them than ever before. We depend on their professionalism and dedication to support the Board and to progress the work of the organisation. We value and appreciate their positive approach to what is ever more critical and challenging work.
The development of our next Strategic Plan during 2010 will give us the opportunity to refocus the organisation and ensure that we provide the leadership and support to the member organisations to enable them to maximise the quality and quantum of services that they can provide to people with a disability.