Every year the ITM holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in a different part of the country to decide on its priorities for the coming year in a participative way. A Central Group (board of management) is selected here each year to manage the Movement on behalf of Travellers and its membership. To protect the core vision and the collective ownership of the Movement, only full members (ie Traveller Organisations) have a vote at the AGM. Furthermore the Central Group is designed in such a way, that there will always be a majority of Travellers on it. For details on the current Central Group, click here
This year's AGM was held in Wexford and the theme was "Traveller ethnicicy and anti-Traveller Racism in the 21st Century" and inputs from Thomas Mc Cann and Ronit Lentin here
Planning for the AGM 2013 begins now! And we will engage our members on the location, theme and role of workshops in due course via our Member Forum, Facebook page and ezine.
Each year the AGM is organised with the participation of members and is the space where new direction can be given to the Movement. ITM Full Members are contacted in advance by the Membership Development Workers in order that they are supported to nominate representatives onto the Central Group as well as lodge Motions in advance of the AGM.
The conference provides opportunities for the Members to come together to debate issues in a creative space and develop new analysis. At the 2009 AGM in Athlone the Membership discussed issues in relation to education, accommodation, legal, conflict, Traveller participation within the Movement, Ethnicity, Youth and the ITM as a Movement. What is the role of a Traveller Organisation?
Within the ITM membership, there are two different types of organisational membership: full and associate. Full members (Traveller organisations) have the following definition (Taken from the 2004 ITM AGM). The ITM has defined Traveller organisations as:
- Non-governmental and independent of the statutory sector although many of their activities are funded by the state
- They are organised with a membership of Travellers and settled people seeking to work together as equal partners and can be organised with a membership made up solely of Travellers. The effective participation of Travellers is a key feature of these organisations.
- The have taken up a clear and pro-active position in relation to Traveller issues and rights, and to the improvements of the living circumstances and general welfare of Travellers
- They work from the understanding that Travellers are an ethnic minority with a distinct culture, which should be taken into account in the provision of services
- They are committed to the principles of community development, for example the development of strong Traveller participation
At times the distinction between a Traveller organisation and an associate member organisation can be somewhat blurred. Many Traveller organisations were formed & driven initially by a number of committed settled people, with little active Traveller participation at an early stage. Also many local Partnerships employ staff with a view of establishing Traveller organisations in an area, though core staff may remain employed by these partnerships, long after the Traveller organisations has been established. There are also a number of voluntary groups providing Traveller-specific services or programmes, without taking up a clear and pro-active position in relation to Traveller issues and rights.
In the past, with less resources (less staff to engage in outreach etc) the Movement was happy for groups to simply self identify. Therefore, in theory, any group could affiliate by simply signing the form and assigning themselves a category of membership. However, in the last number of years the Movement has requested that ITM (specifically through the Membership Development Workers) link in strongly with groups in order to support greater Traveller participation, and support the development of stronger Traveller-led groups in all parts of the country.
As per the AGM 2008, ITM Members voted unanimously to adapt the
following clause to affiliation forms:
"We agree to fully
support and encourage Traveller participation at all levels, internally
and externally, in our organisation at local, regional and national
level, and to create an environment where Travellers, individually and
collectively, are continuously supported from training through to
meaningful employment at levels within our organisation. Full Member
organisations are Traveller-led or working towards being Traveller-led
by engaging with the Community and the ITM has a role in ensuring active
Traveller participation within Member organisations and the authority
to investigate and address these issues". The ITM will develop baseline
data on the level of Traveller participation within the Movement, which
will be reviewed biannually.