Policy Fora get a make over

NI Assembly

Our 12 policy fora are being revamped to become new Departmental Monitoring Groups (DMGs).

Seven years ago when we set up our first policy forum it was designed to bring together people from across the sector interested in a particular topic, to share information and discuss current issues. Over the years the number of fora increased to 12 and, while each on developed in its own way, they all also wanted to have a role in lobbying government and impacting on policy development.

Sign up here: http://www.nicva.org/dmg-signup-2016

I think its fair to say that while all of them did well in the aim of sharing information and as place for discussion, the results in terms of impact on policy or lobbying decision makers have been mixed. And as a sector we have moved on considerably in how we share information with each other on general policy issues.

However there is a gap in how we keep up to speed on developments in departments, on what’s being done, on what’s being spent, on what isn’t, on new initiatives, Ministerial statements and on the work and priorities of each department scrutiny committee. With all this in mind, and with the 2016 elections in sight, we think its time to shake up the current policy fora and form new Departmental Monitoring Groups.  By mirroring the structure of government as it is, rather than cross cutting issues we hope they would impact on, we think these groups are likely to provide a much more robust role in assessing how each department is impacting on the people, families and communities you work with.

However we don’t want these new structures to allow us to drift into a silo mentality that we are often so critical of, and there is a lot to be gained from keeping a cross cutting over-sight. So the Chairs of each DMG will all meet together once a quarter and of course NICVA staff will provide continuity across the groups and be able to see how the work of each group weaves together. As often as possible groups will work together on issues. A good example of this would be the joint work on the mental capacity legislation last year led by the criminal justice and the mental health policy fora.

Membership of the DMG is open to NICVA members and you can register your interest to join one, more or all of them here.


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