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1. Partnership matters - “In today’s world partnerships matters.” These were the words of Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, Ms. Margaret Twomey at the opening of the 4th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability at the Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi.

2. Effective technical advice vital for CPRD implementation - Seeking technical advice from people with disabilities could help achieve the aims of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD)

Partnership matters

“In today’s world, partnerships matters.” These were the words of Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, Ms. Margaret Twomey at the opening of the 4th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability at the Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi.

She said there are growing possibilities to form partnerships with organisations and the private sectors, especially here in the Pacific.

She adds that through partnership to realize the rights of persons with disabilities saw more Pacific Islands ratifying the UNCRPD.

She stressed the importance of networking to build on existing partnerships and forge new ones.

Ms. Twomey in congratulating the Pacific Disability Forum on their 10th anniversary said the Australian government would work closely with PDF as partners to advocate and raise awareness on UNCRPD.

She encouraged all people with disability, particularly our children and young people, to continue to demand and strive for a fair society on the principles of the convention.

Building a disability inclusive Pacific will only be possible if all partners work together to ensure that disability rights are realised.

2. Effective technical advice vital for CPRD implementation

Seeking technical advice from people with disabilities could help achieve the aims of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD).

These were the words of Ms. Elena Down the Senior technical advisor for Disability Inclusive Development of CBM Australia at the Pacific Regional Conference on Disability in Nadi. Down said if technical advice is not consistent with CRPD, then the policies, legislation, programs and outcomes would probably not be either.

“Technical advice means providing information on the experience of people with disability, advising on ways to collect data about disability, participating on committees to ensure that they include perspectives of people with disability, being on research teams to help ensure inclusion and giving advice about accessible meetings and communication,” she said.

“It can be sector specific, for instance, reviewing laws or policies for CRPD compliance,  advising governments about inclusive education, WASH, accessible roads infrastructure, access to justice, EVAW, audit of building access and making recommendations on improvement, and advice on how to make a policy or action plan more inclusive of women and girls with disability.”

As persons with disabilities as technical advisors in disability inclusive development, Ms. Down said Disability-inclusive development seeks to ensure the participation and beneficiary of people with disabilities from development activities on an equal basis with others.

“Partnership complements other training, and, influences how the CRPD is implemented in each context, each policy and each program, to make the rights real for people with disabilities,” she said.

Down added working in partnership, in a variety of ways would open up more opportunities for people with disabilities to be involved in the development of their communities. 

Funding is vital to sustainably build the capacity of persons with disabilities

Sustainable funding from donors is essential in building the capacity of persons with disabilities around the Pacific. A good example is the formation of the Rainbow Disability Theatre Group which through external funding was able to establish them in Vanuatu advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Willy Sablan a participant and representing Vanuatu at the 4th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability in Nadi, Fiji said that through a Disability Rights Fund (DRF) funded workshop he attended, he was able to obtain funding to form the Rainbow Disability Theatre Group in Vanuatu.

“This was made possible because of strong partnership to push for the rights of persons with disabilities.” he said.

Ms. Diana Samarasan the Executive Director and founder of the DRF calls for stronger inclusive partnerships with donors while presenting at the 4th Regional Conference on Disability.

She said according to an online report on global funding; only four percent of human rights funds accounts for persons with disabilities.

“That is tantamount to being, still, invisible. And, as all of you know, without resources, it is hard to push rights forward,” she said.

Ms. Samarasan said it was vital for Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) to create networks with donors and development partners to attract support for their work and donor agencies to establish inclusive framework within their structures to be able to support persons with disabilities effectively. 

Include persons with disabilities in development agenda

“All persons with disabilities must be included and recognized as people who can make a lift to our society.”

These were the words of the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Akbar in closing the 4th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability.

She said that each nation must see that inclusion is not just at policy dialogue or policy intervention, but rather a concept expressed in improved livelihoods for people with disability. Persons with disabilities should be included in the new development agenda in the new world that we are building for all.

Realising the inclusion of persons with disabilities will require good communication between Disable Peoples Organisation, Governments, and disability partners and stakeholders. Good communication still needs to be pursued to materialize disability inclusion in all sectors.