IHC considers new role for the future
IHC is looking at the future role of its members as we adapt to changes in society and the different pressures on families.
IHC Chair Tony Shaw reported to the Annual General Meeting in October on a Working Group that was established this year to define the roles of the Member Council and Associations. The Group recommended that IHC develop a Membership Strategy to outline a role for members that was relevant and fit for purpose into the future.
Tony said there had been a steady reduction in the number of Associations, and changes in the nature of volunteering and of disability support as we move away from traditional and residential services.
He said it was important to strengthen the voice of people with intellectual disabilities, and the role of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There was also a need to better reflect families and whānau with intellectually disabled children and the diversity of different communities.
In 2022 IHC commissioned an independent review of its Associations and Member Council, which suggested the organisation clarify and simplify the roles of both and provide more support.
The Association and Member Council Working Group reported to the IHC Board in August with 32 recommendations that clarify the roles of the IHC Member Council and IHC Associations and bring about a shift in focus. Most recommendations aim to improve processes that support the Council and the Associations to fulfil their responsibilities.
The Working Group identified the need for IHC to clearly articulate membership benefits and find ways to retain existing members and engage with a new generation of members.
“IHC came about through the advocacy and hard work of disabled people, parents, families and whānau of people with intellectual disabilities,” the report says. “The landscape has changed in that many young families in the community do not have the same level of support families had in the earlier days of IHC. The whole disability support environment has become bigger and more complicated to navigate. A more stringent effort needs to be made to move the work of Associations to be outward rather than inward looking.”
The key recommendation was for IHC to develop a Membership Strategy because the way membership operated now was not sustainable. The number of IHC Associations has been reducing over the years.
The Working Group report highlights the shortage of members willing and able to join Associations. “Balancing the tension between valuing existing members while at the same time attracting the next generation of members is an important task,” the report says. “There are vibrant Associations operating and Associations that have plans to increase their vibrancy. The place we find ourselves in now is not that Associations don’t work but that the environment has changed, and we need to adapt to remain relevant.”
Another important recommendation was to have at least two people with intellectual disabilities as members of the Member Council.
This recommendation supported a commitment to people with intellectual disabilities, supported by their families and whānau, to have more choice and control over their lives.
The IHC Board accepted the recommendations and the IHC executive team has now nearly completed implementing them. The next steps will be to trial the improvements and make any final adjustments and changes to policy. These will go to the Board for approval.
Caption: Election candidates were questioned about their stance on disability issues by self-advocates at the IHC Election Forum in October.