The Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People Kathleen Lynch, today announced the establishment of a new Disability forum which will be convened by the National Disability Authority. This forum will be developed along the lines of the Social Inclusion forum and will provide a very useful model for capturing the views and experiences of people with disabilities as service users. Furthermore it will facilitate a better consultation process and clearly establish the perspective of the end user and compliment the work of the main established disability organisations.

The Minister said, "It is very important that we clearly hear the voice of people with disabilities in developing any policies or services that impact on their lives.  I intend to ensure that in the development of policy and the delivery of services for people with disabilities that we benefit from the experiences and expertise of those citizens who have disabilities. I will achieve this by providing a forum to hear their voice on issues affecting their lives.  A number of disabled people have already been appointed by me to the high level group to assist in the implementation of the National Disability Strategy.  This will ensure that their perspective as service users is an integral part of the development and implementation of an action plan for the National Disability Strategy.  It will also ensure that the voice of people with disabilities themselves is heard by me and my officials, and I am in no doubt that it will further compliment the work and perspective of other disability organizations involved in the process."

The Social Inclusion Forum is a proven model for capturing the views and experiences of people on the ground and it has a capacity for reaching wider and further than the main established organisations. In a similar way, the creation of a Disability Forum will provide the opportunity and occasion for valuable dialogue relative to the disability sector. A published report from the annual Disability Forum will feed into the work of the high level group in the implementation of National Disability Strategy.  It will also successfully capture directly the views and experiences from people with disabilities which will help significantly to inform policy and practice.

The Minister continued, "I am also conscious that there are many people with disabilities and their families, who don't get an opportunity to have their voice heard and air their concerns and experiences. Last year, the National Disability Authority facilitated a very useful consultation exercise with people with disabilities, their families and carers. This listening exercise helped in no small way to enrich the understanding of what needs to be done and has proven to be a very positive element in the Policy Review of Disability Services. The new Disability Forum will be developed on this listening principle."

8 March 2012

ENDS