‘There is no government support for the Vanuatu Society for Disable People! There is no government support for people living with all forms of disability! ‘Said participants of the 2 days training workshop.
The 2 days training workshop that took place on the 24th and 25th of January on Disability Advocacy Work and Human Rights in Development was a big hit, capturing the attention of the national government, NGOs and the general public, realizing that a lot more effort is required to improve basic services to those living with disability. Representatives of organizations and individuals working in areas of disability and humanity, policy makers, key policy implementers, teachers, nurses ,community leaders, youth leaders, church leaders, care takers such as parents. The course aim was to enhance the participants work on their participation to improve access to basic social services such as health and education. Participants also learnt different methodologies that can be used in adult life-long learning.
The 25 participants representing various NGOs, government, CBOs, Faith Based Organizations and Individual activists whose work is to support the national government with the implementation of its national programs actively contributed to the training. A lawyer, engineer, prison officers, women and youth leaders , health workers and policy makers, those working in corruption issues , those working in national disability office and other disability field workers who actively participated.
Miss Jeanette Lee , Yorolla’s Advocacy and Personal Development Officer was one of the main facilitators who facilitated the disability advocacy topics and also shared a lot of experiences from her work as an advocate on disability policies. Yooralla is one of Australia’s largest and most proactive organizations working to support people with disability to live independent and fulfilling lives. It has been giving encouragement and support since 1918. Miss Lee’s presentation also covered the Australian Disability Act which this team will be looking through to see if something similar can be developed in Vanuatu’s context.
Topics covered in the training are:
• Methodological Framework
• Introduction to Human Rights- The Basics
• Universal Declaration of Human Rights
• Policy Advocacy Campaign Strategies
• Existing laws/legislations on the Rights and support to people living with disability/ policies and government strategic plans and implementations of these plans.
The training was conducted in a more participatory process where participants contributed to discussions and felt that their contributions impacted the training in a positive way. The first day of the training was conducted in hired conference room in town. The 2nd day of the training was moved to a rural village location where community leaders and individual living with disability also participated and contributed well in the discussions. The participants were given the chance to interact with the local people, hearing their stories of difficulties in accessing schools and health services. Stories of discriminations from disable people where told and probable resolutions were discussed these issues of discrimination.
The government disability policy and plan of action 2008-2015 and Conventions of the Rights of People Living with Disability were brought to discussion during the training where some urgent issues were brought forward to work on. Some identified and most urgent issues that needed the government’s attention most are:
• Access – Schools, hospitals, businesses, vegetable markets and government offices have to be wheel chair accessible. These places need to have ramps and good railings fit for mobilization. Schools have to be friendly for disable children to eradicate discrimination at all levels. There should be proper bathrooms at the airports, town centers and hotels to accommodate the needs of people on wheel chairs.
• Community Participation in schools – Parents and volunteers should be allowed to sit in class with students with learning difficulties and also those with disabilities to assist with their learning, taking notes and helping them to learn.
• Analytic research on government implementation of the MDG plan of action as well as evaluating the work of the government on the Human Rights Conventions already ratified and signed.
• Capacity training for NGOs, CBOs, FBOs and Individuals working in areas of disability and humanity.
• Engage local groups who can design and make appropriate equipment such as crutches, slings and portable ramps to assist individuals on wheel chairs.
After this training, an association was established to lead this team forward with its main aim to carry out analytic research on the government’s commitment on all the Human Rights Conventions ratified and signed and also the implementation of the Vanuatu National Disability Policy Plan of Action 2008-2015.
The newly established association is called the “Vanuatu Human Rights Coalition’ with current membership of 25 members both organization and individual.
Executive Members of this group are:
VEPAC –Vanuatu Education Policy Advocacy Coalition – Anne Pakoa – Chairlady
Vanuatu Society of Disable People – Willie Sablan- Vice Chairman
Live & Learn – Jill Hory – Secretary
Correctional Services (Prison Officer) - Maina Anson – Vice secretary
Advocacy Legal Advice Center - Albert Taufa– Treasurer
Vanuatu Society for Disable People – Danstan Tate – Vice Treasurer
Yooralla, Melbourne, Australia – Jeanette Lee – Advocacy / Personal Development – Member
Vanuatu Society for Disable People – Knox Tony – Member
Vanuatu Frangipani Pikinini Association – Mrs. Dorian Naulipus – Member
There was good media coverage through national television and two sessions of radio talk back shows which came on live and was aired throughout the country, reaching the remote areas effectively. Site visits included the hospital, Vanuatu Society for Disable People office and Teoma Community. It was a great training ever which now has paved way for Civil Society to participate in the process of pushing the government to improve provision of basic health and education services to the vulnerable groups! With VEPAC’s JICA volunteer, Mr. Kozuo Otane whose profession is in Special Education, VEPAC will continue to support the national government Ministry of Education to improve the implementation of the National plan of Inclusive Education.
We would like to thank Dignity International and ASPBAE (Asia and South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education), Canberra for enabling Miss Anne Pakoa, to participate in the 11th Global Linking & Learning Programme in Human Rights in Development, Kuala Lumbar, Malaysia which she is now extending this knowledge and skills to those working in areas of Education and Health. Further acknowledgment and gratitude to Miss Jeanette Lee who travelled all the way from Australia to facilitate the training workshop. Despite all the rough roads here in Port Vila and the difficulties she faced in getting around with her wheel chair both in town and the rural communities she assisted us in putting this dynamic team in place. Thanks a Million!