Disability Federation of Ireland Annual Review 2012
Issued on June 19 2013
As Chairperson I am pleased to be presenting another Annual Review to you the members of DFI. You receive quarterly reports on the implementation of the Strategic Plan along with this Annual Review. Also presented is the Audit and Directors report. In this opening statement I wish to make a few comments in relation to last year and otherwise point you to the body of this review.
The one event that clearly stands out was the cut to Personal Assistant (PA) services and Home Supports announced at the end of July. The cut would have effectively closed down services for the remainder of the year. This announcement by government triggered a determined response from people with disabilities. The images of people with disabilities sleeping out overnight in front of Government buildings will take a long time to be erased from our memories. DFI fully supported this campaign. Sadly, this announcement of a PA cut represents a significant disconnect between government and the realities of life for people with disabilities and their families, and a disconnect between our government”s policy and its practice.
DFI will continue to find ways of responding to the deep felt aspirations of people with disabilities to become free and autonomous participants in society. We will support the disability movement at the personal and individual levels and will also support the broad array of disability organisations within the movement. All must steadfastly work in collaboration and to support people with disabilities aspirations.
DFI has been very clear in stating that disability is a societal issue and not an issue for a distinct sector in society. The risk of disability spans a life course, from birth right through to older age. We still have the “disability sector” and the “elderly sector” as if the experience of disability and disabling conditions were not similar across these domains. DFI welcomes the opportunities that the merging of disability services and older people”s services offers in the reconfiguration of the health services to bring greater consistency and continuity to services for people with disabilities regardless of their age. We are conscious too of the considerable work that is being progressed through the changes in children”s services.
DFI recognises that organisational governance is critical for effective operations in a rapidly changing and challenging environment. There were regular meetings of the National Council, the AGM took place in May, while the quarterly reports on the Operational Plan provided additional detailed information. The Board progressed the implementation of PQASSO, a quality assurance system, to strengthen performance, and reviewed existing governance arrangements. Three Board sub-committees also operated to expedite work: on compliance, office premises and finance and audit. The Board Governance Manual is being implemented. A significant information management project was initiated which is improving how we manage our contacts, monitors how we invest our time and provides better evidence of our work. The Board has undertaken to prioritise the review of our governance structures in keeping with commitments in the Strategic Plan. It noted that our Memorandum & Articles, agreed in 1989, are out of date in terms of the substantial structural and organisational changes which have taken place within the disability movement and externally with the development of the National Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I would like to conclude by thanking my fellow Board members for their work and contribution throughout the year. Apart from Board meetings they also participate in the Board Sub-Committees. This work is a significant call on their time. I particularly acknowledge the support of my fellow officers John O”Sullivan, Vice Chairperson and Don Bailey, Honorary Treasurer.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank the management and staff, and the many volunteers who represent DFI countrywide. Their work and commitment are greatly appreciated.