Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the specific roles given to each Department under the national disability inclusion strategy 2017 to 2021; the status of the 114 actions set out in the strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5485/18]
240. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions contained within the national disability inclusion strategy 2017 to 2021 which have been implemented; and the actions that remain to be implemented. [5487/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): I propose to take Questions Nos. 238 and 240 together.
The National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) 2017 – 2021, which I launched on 14 July 2017 takes a whole of Government approach to improving the lives of people with disabilities both in a practical sense, and also in creating the best possible opportunities for people with disabilities to fulfil their potential. It is intended that it will make a significant difference over its lifetime to the position of people with disabilities in Irish society.
The Strategy contains eight themes as follows:
- Equality and Choice
- Joined up policies and public services
- Health and Wellbeing
- Person centred disability services
- Living in the Community; and
- Transport and Accessible Places
Underpinning these themes are a set of high level objectives, and 114 measurable and time-specific actions that relate to the areas of education, employment, provision of public services, health, transport, and personal safety and autonomy. The key commitments to action it contains may be summarised as follows:
- Extension of Irish Sign Language remote interpretation service.
- Resourcing of the Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) to increase the number of trained Sign Language and Deaf Interpreters, to put a quality-assurance and registration scheme in place and to provide on-going professional training and development for Interpreters.
- Legislation that will ensure that all public bodies provide Irish Sign Language users with free interpretation when accessing or availing of statutory services.
- Examination of the recommendations of the Make Work Pay Working Group with a view to introducing meaningful reforms.
- Full implementation of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy.
- A review of transport supports to determine the type of cross-departmental transportation options that will best help people with a range of disabilities to get to work, and implementation of the most viable proposals.
- Development of proposals to address access to, or affordability of, necessary aids/appliances/assistive technology required for everyday living, for those people with disabilities whose entry, retention or return to work could be jeopardised due to being unable to afford these items.
- Introduction of a scheme that will significantly reduce the notice time for travelling for mobility-impaired customers requiring assistance.
- Development of proposals in relation to attaching conditions regarding wheelchair accessibility on passenger coach and train licensed services.
- Examination of the recommendations of the report of the Personalised Budgeting Taskforce, with a view to introducing individualised funding/personal budget.
- Development of Codes of Practice to support implementation of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2016.
- Full implementation of the Access and Inclusion model of supports for children with disabilities to allow every child participate meaningfully in Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme
- Full implementation of the Transforming Lives programme.
The Strategy is a ‘living document,’ with consultation on a mid-term review to take place towards the end of this year, and revised iterations of the Strategy being published periodically, containing update and more ambitious actions in the light of progress to date.
The Strategy is a cross-government approach that brings together actions by different Departments and State agencies including:
- Department of Justice and Equality
- Department of Education and Skills
- Department of Health
- Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
- Health Service Executive
- National Disability Authority
- Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
- Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
- National Transport Authority
- Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
The focus in implementing the Strategy is on continuing interdepartmental cooperation and a joined-up approach, which is overseen by the Steering Group. Implementation is being supported by independent analysis and advice from the NDA, and also by periodic review and oversight by the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy as appropriate.
Given the significant number of actions contained in the Strategy, I do not propose to provide updates on each. However at the most recent meeting of the Steering Group, which I chair, on 8 December 2017, I was advised as follows in relation to the 109 actions due to start, be progressed, or be completed in 2017:
- Some 64 actions were recorded as being on track.
- Minor delivery issues, including incomplete reporting were recorded against 22 actions.
- Significant delivery issues were reported against nine actions.
- Six actions were recorded as being completed.
- Status information was due to be received on a further eight actions
While I am broadly satisfied with the progress made so far, it is imperative that the Steering Group continues to focus on analysing the actions which recorded significant delivery issues, and gaining an understanding of why these initiatives been delayed, and accurately identifying the barriers and removing them.
While implementation is of course a critical stage of the process, it is also essential that we measure the overall impact of the Strategy itself, and determine whether the lives the lives of people with disabilities have improved as a result of the implementation of the actions contained in the strategy. Accordingly, it is essential that a suite of indicators is developed that will enable measurement of change in key areas addressed by the Strategy. This critical piece of work is being advanced by the National Disability Authority, and the Group will sign off on agreed indicators at our next meeting on 13 April.