2010 Annual Review
Issued on June 1 2011
DFI’s Annual Plan for 2010 stated that ‘The year ahead will be challenging for our member organisations. Our experience last year has led us to understand that we need to be more assertive and directional in relation to providing supports to our members.’
In implementing our 2010 Annual Plan we were acutely awareof the importance of planning and monitoring our own activities, to ensure that resources were used optimally to support member organisations, and to protect and promote continued progress on the implementation of the National Disability Strategy at local and national levels.
Funding for voluntary disability organisations, both statutory and independently raised, was decreasing cumulatively throughout the year. Budget 2010, the National Recovery Programme and, in particular, the Review of Disability Services under the Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative 2008 – 2011, were prompting major changes along with the impact of the Charities Act 2009 and the greater emphasis on good governance. Fundamental questions were raised for organisations in terms of how best to position themselves to provide services and supports for people with disabilities.
In the face of considerable uncertainty, especially about funding during the early months of the year, DFI has vigorously implemented its two-pronged approach to promoting a society that is fully inclusive of people with disabilities. On the one hand we pursued every avenue available to policy makers and practitioners, highlighting the acknowledged priority for disability policy as well as the excessive burden imposed on people when disability supports and services are not protected. As we drew towards the end of the year there was a pressing danger that there would have been deep cuts to funding. However due to the efforts of DFI, working with others, we were greatly relieved that the eventual cut was in the order of 1.8%. This is an enormous achievement in the context of the current economic situation. On the other hand we worked to rationalise and deepen our support for member organisations. We knew that member organisations had to adapt to a changed, more mainstream policy environment while at the same time managing on fewer resources and withincreasing demand for services.
Substantial progress was made in developing the Service Suite, and development commenced on a Member Development Programme to enhance our engagement with member organisations. We also held a conference in November , ‘Quality in the Mainstream’ for organisations providing services, and those setting and enforcing standards, to anticipate the changes that need to take place when people with disabilities are active community members and requiring services in that context.
DFI engaged in intensive work with the Disability Stakeholders Group (DSG) and others, aimed at sustaining implementation of the National Disability Strategy through the recession and building a platform for renewed momentum when the recovery commences. We also strengthened our engagement with the statutory health authorities and the Community and Voluntary Pillar to influence key Government departments and protect services for people with disabilities. We engaged in the 2011 Budget process to try to promote disability-proofing of any cutback plans. DFI has constantly pointed out the double hit endured by people with disabilities, when they face both reductions in disability benefits and services and reductions in the general services and facilities such as transport, health care, and housing, on which they rely.
In addition to the broader policy work, an over-riding priority in 2010 was to develop our agreed engagement with the Department of Health and Children and the HSE to jointly address the concerns of people with disabilities. Issues included the regional consultative committees, SLAs and database development. The Value for Money and Policy Review of the HSE’s Disability Services Programme was another key area where DFI worked to assist organisations to be well placed to reposition theirwork.
Internally, DFI’s Board Governance Manual was completed and adopted by the Board at its December meeting. Work began to identify actions that need to be taken to ensure compliance with all aspects of Board governance, as specified in the manual.
At Board level, engagement changed considerably through greater use of sub-committees, and with the ‘Board Governance Manual’ there is now a clear understanding of the standards, expectations, roles and responsibilities across the organisation to guide the Board. Arising out of the Manual two Board sub committees have been set up namely the Finance and Audit Compliance sub-committee, which takes over from the Finance committee, and the General Compliance sub-committee.
There was progress on a programme of work, including the development of a staff competency framework and the development of a system of information management, the Information Management Performance Project (IMP).
DFI proceeded with the preparation of a new Strategic Plan 2011-2016, and the process of consultation with key stakeholders, a project critical to the future orientation of the organisation. All of these internal work areas are seen as critical for the proper management and strategic direction of the organisation so that it is best placed to give the leadership, direction and support necessary to deliver on the vision and mission of the Disability Federation of Ireland. The development of the new Strategic Plan was a constant area of consideration by the Board during the year, and a full day meeting of the Board took place in April. We are now looking forward to presenting the Strategic Plan to the National Council for approval.
It has been a difficult year, but the resolve and commitment of everyone involved in DFI, member organisations, National Council, Board, staff and volunteers, has been impressive, and it is appreciated. Our country has a difficult journey ahead and we will continue to face serious issues and challenges in protecting and enhancing the much needed services for people with disabilities.
In conclusion I wish to thank my fellow Board members for their contribution and commitment to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities in their role as Company Directors on behalf of the National Council. Fellow officers and members of sub committees, in particular, took on extra work on behalf of DFI and I wish to thank them in that regard. Equally the CEO and the staff have again shown enormous commitment to the work of the organisation and they too are to be acknowledged and thanked.