Melissa Lethaby read the below Presidents' Report at the ACHIEVE 2016 Annual General Meeting on 8 December, held at AUT Campus, Auckland.
Kia ora koutou and welcome to the 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM). ACHIEVE is once again pleased to hold its AGM alongside the Professional Development Conference.
The ACHIEVE National Executive Committee (NEC) has met as frequently as time has permitted this year and we would like to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the committee members for their contributions to ensuring the on-going success of ACHIEVE. For most, the role on the NEC comes in addition to their already busy roles within tertiary institutions, and like most, these areas are under considerable pressure to deliver more with less or to respond to the increase in student numbers with no additional resources. Despite these challenges, the NEC has worked hard to ensure disability support within tertiary settings remains fair and equitable for students with disabilities and/or impairments. We have also worked tirelessly to ensure disability practitioners have opportunities for good quality professional development.
When reviewing highlights of the year, our work with the Guidelines and Procedures for the Provision of Alternative Arrangements in Tests and Examinations to Students with Disability/Impairment is noteworthy. It has been a significant piece of our work. These guidelines grew out of a research project we conducted in 2014/2015 and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the subgroup who were actively involved in the development and for so generously giving of their time. In addition, we would also like to thank Dr Martha Bell for her significant contribution and on-going involvement with the project; for without her steadfast commitment it is highly unlikely we would be in a position to officially launch the Guidelines today. We must also mention Ako Aotearoa for their financial contribution and unfaltering support of our work. ACHIEVE’s aim has always been to provide a pathway to equitable achievements and these guidelines and procedures provide standardised processes for determining the reasonableness of modifications to assessments. They will complement internal processes within individual institutions and enable them to make decisions which are legislatively compliant and consistent across the sector and are best practice for students with disability/impairment. A great deal of time and effort has been taken to ensure we are getting this right and we thank our student representatives for providing carefully considered feedback. The next step for ACHIEVE is dissemination and we thank Lara Sanderson, Student Representative from Otago for her assistance with the creation of a poster which carefully depicts the processes and standards in a simplified version.
In July 2016, it was a pleasure to present at the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Conference at AUT. This presentation drew attention to ACHIEVE, Kia Orite and also to the work of our research project.
ACHIEVE also made comment on the draft of the New Zealand Disability Strategy and we support its vision of New Zealand being a non-disabling society – a place where disabled people have an equal opportunity to achieve their goals and aspirations, and all of New Zealand works together to make this happen.
So, as you will see 2016 has seen many positives, however there have also been a few challenges. Funding has proved to be a major challenge this year and all seven of our grant applications were declined. This absolutely reflects the current economic climate and funding remains at the forefront of our minds. In addition, it is with much sadness that we have accepted the resignation of Rachel ‘Aluesi, ACHIEVE’s Administrator, who has so competently managed the administrative needs of ACHIEVE since 2010. The gap Rachel will leave is immense and we extend an enormous thanks to her for her sterling work over the past 6 years. We would also like to take a moment to farewell John Butler from our NEC. John’s commitment and contribution to ACHIEVE and the sector has been noteworthy, and we wish him all the very best.
Finally, we (both Marg and I) will be standing down as Co-Presidents this year. On a personal note, it has been a privilege to have been President and Co-President over the past 5 years and I am very proud of all we have accomplished during this time. We remain firmly committed to the work of ACHIEVE and will remain actively involved with the NEC. We have every confidence that ACHIEVE will continue to grow.