Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 08 May, 2008
Written Answers. - Health Services.
Deputy Dan Neville Deputy Dan Neville
Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the Office for Disability and Mental Health. [17610/08]
Deputy Dan Neville Deputy Dan Neville
Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the members of the Office for Disability and Mental Health. [17611/08]
Deputy Mary Harney Deputy Mary Harney
Deputy Mary Harney: I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 172 together.
 In January 2008, the Government announced the establishment of the Office for Disability and Mental Health to support the Minister for Disability & Mental Health in exercising their responsibilities across four Government Departments: Health & Children, Education & Science, Enterprise, Trade & Employment and Justice, Equality & Law Reform.
The new Office brings together responsibility for a range of different policy areas and State services which directly impact on the lives of people with a disability and people with mental health issues. The Office will aim to bring about improvements in the manner in which services respond to the needs of people with disabilities and mental health issues, by working to develop person-centred services, focussing on the holistic needs of clients and service users and actively involving them in their own care.
Very substantial progress has been made in recent years in the areas of disability and mental health, but much remains to be done. In particular, there is a need to improve co-ordination and communication across different Government Departments and agencies in their delivery of services to this client group. This will be the main focus for the new Office in the coming months.
The key priorities for the Office for Disability and Mental Health are:
supporting the implementation of the Health Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act 2005. The Office will focus in particular on facilitating the delivery of integrated health and education support services for children with special needs, by further developing existing mechanisms for co-operation and co-ordination between the health and education sectors, both at national and local level;
developing an appropriate continuum of training and employment support services for people with a disability by working together with the Dept. of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, FAS and the HSE;
bringing a new impetus to the implementation of A Vision for Change, working in partnership with the HSE and other stakeholders to achieve implementation of agreed targets.
Achieving greater cooperation between the health and justice sectors on matters relating to people with mental illness who come before the Courts, who are in the prison system or in the Central Mental Hospital.
The Director of the Office for Disability and Mental Health is Bairbre Nic Aongusa, formerly Deputy Director of the Office of the Minister for Children (OMC). During her time in the OMC, Ms Nic Aongusa engaged extensively in the type of cross-agency and cross-Departmental work that is now required to achieve real progress in disability and mental health. She brings that experience and expertise with her to the new Office, in addition to her experience as a senior manager in the Department of Health & Children over several years. The Director of the Office is a member of the Senior Officials Group on Social Inclusion, which monitors progress on the Government’s commitments in relation to social policy. The Government has also agreed that meetings will be held on a quarterly basis between the Minister for Disability and Mental Health, the four Secretary Generals of the relevant Departments and the Director of the new Office, to review progress in the priority areas. The staff of the Office were drawn from within existing resources as per Government policy on public service numbers.
 In conclusion, the Government’s decision to establish the Office for Disability and Mental Health reflects its commitment to developing a more coherent and integrated response to the needs of people with disabilities and mental health issues. It recognises that clients and service users need to be at the centre of service delivery and that we may need to examine the way in which services are currently delivered to ensure that is the case. To effectively achieve this requires a cross-Departmental, cross-agency response. The designation of a Minister of State with responsibility for Disabilities and Mental Health and the establishment of an Office for Disability and Mental Health will facilitate cross-agency and cross-departmental working and enable us to deliver real benefits to clients and service users into the future.
Dáil Éireann 653 Written Answers. Health Services.