Advocacy, both in the field and in Australia, is central to CBM Australia achieving its mission
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world had been making progress in tackling poverty, but people with disabilities were still being left behind. The pandemic now threatens to undo progress towards ending extreme poverty and is revealing the extent of the exclusion and discrimination that people with disabilities have been experiencing.
Our advocacy in Australia
As a leading disability-inclusive international development agency, CBM Australia calls on the Australian Government to continue its leadership in disability inclusive development (DID). Specifically, CBM is asking the government to commit to a third iteration of the Development for All Policy, which focuses on DID.
As a member of the Australia Disability & Development Consortium (ADDC), CBM is actively offering the government assistance on developing this policy. We do this by working alongside people with disabilities and by utilising our wide network and our partnerships with Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs).
In 2021, CBM held the Australian Government to account when it cut the disability allocation within the Australian aid budget by 25%. At the time, CBM described the move as short sighted for a government that has promised to protect the most vulnerable. CBM supporters answered the call and our sector colleagues joined us. Together we called on the Government to restore and increase funding for disability inclusive development in Australia, and conversations with the Government have ensued.
As a direct result of our advocacy efforts, we saw additional funding allocated to DID at the end of the previous financial year. This is a sign our continued lobbying is having a real impact on decision-makers. The fight is not over yet — the 25% cut for the current 2021/2022 year is unfortunately still sustained. We are now focusing our efforts on restoring this year’s budget and, of course, looking ahead to next year.
Advocacy — achieving systemic change
Many of the barriers faced by people with disabilities can be overcome through national and local governments ensuring the foundations for inclusion are in place, as well as having disability inclusive approaches to services. Even where strong policies on disability inclusion exist, funding is often not available for implementation.
Using evidence from our field programs and our Inclusion Advisory Group, which works in partnership with the disability movement, we contribute to influencing global and national-level outcomes that achieve positive change for people with disabilities.
These are the issues to be addressed and requirements and obligations we’re all accountable to.
Let’s work together to operationalise those requirements and obligations in specific circumstances.
Let’s work together to demonstrate and generate evidence for what works ‘on the ground’.
Achieving systemic change at a country level involves:
Advocating for changes to laws that discriminate and exclude;
Developing rights-based policies; and
Advocating for disability-inclusive budgets.
CBM works in partnership with OPDs, government, civil society, mainstream service providers and the private sector to achieve this.
CBM’s Advocacy is driven by stark facts:
One in seven people has a disability — 80% live in developing countries.
One in five of the poorest people living in developing countries has a disability.
There is a vicious cycle of poverty and disability. If you are poor, you are much more likely to have a disability because of lack of access to medical care, clean water and sanitation, coupled with poor nutrition and unsafe working conditions. The discrimination and exclusion faced by people with disabilities in health, education and livelihood, for example, increases vulnerability and the likelihood of becoming and staying poor.
Millions of people with disabilities are currently affected by humanitarian crises. People with disabilities are the worst affected and the least likely to get help.
The COVID-19 crisis is disproportionately affecting people with disabilities. Some of the key issues include a lack of accessible life-saving public-health information, lack of support in putting hygiene measures into practice, lack of accessible health facilities, and in some countries, negative attitudes and discrimination, and denying access to life-saving health care.
Advocating beside those who are left behind
Our focus is advocating for and with the most at-risk people living in low and middle-income countries. CBM’s focus also includes:
Gender and disability
Disability has a different impact on women, men, girls, boys, and people with other gender identities. Women and girls with disabilities often face additional, compounding disadvantage.
The negative impact of climate change brings into sharp focus the disproportionate effect that climate change is having on people with disabilities. We need governments, institutions and communities to recognise and respond to the call.