Leading disability-inclusive international development agency, CBM Australia, has described tonight’s apparent cuts to the disability allocation within the Australian aid budget as short-sighted and bewildering.
The Federal Government has removed more than 25 per cent of the disability budget, which is contradictory for a government promising to protect the most vulnerable.
CBM CEO Jane Edge said people with disabilities were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. “People with disabilities have lost their jobs disproportionately more than people without disabilities, are experiencing food insecurity and face immense challenges to protect themselves from the virus,” Ms Edge said. “We are dismayed by this budget cut at a time when the world’s most vulnerable are at risk of being left further behind. We must act now to ensure that doesn’t happen”
CBM is calling for clarity and transparency on these cuts, which come within an aid budget of $4billion and $304.7million in additional funds to support Pacific and Timor Leste COVID response.
“The disability budget is a very small amount that can go a long way to bring local voices of people with disabilities and their agendas to the table,” Ms Edge said.
“Australian aid should represent not just our economic might, but our clearly-defined values. Ours is a country that was among the first to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and it led the way by introducing the world’s first strategy for disability-inclusive international development.
“We can only hope there is significant funding for disability within other budgeted programs. Major global health investments like those announced in tonight’s budget must include and progress the human rights of people with disabilities.”
As the world’s one in seven people with disabilities face higher rates of unemployment, food insecurity and barriers to health and health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s leadership and support is needed now more than ever.
“Australia is a world leader when it comes to inclusion. This means we must maintain a policy commitment and adequate funding to ensure that people with disabilities are consulted and included in all aspects of Australia’s international COVID-19 response and recovery. It will help save lives and ensure the poorest of the poor are not left further behind”, Ms Edge added.
Jane Edge is Chief Executive Officer of CBM Australia and Vice President (Finance) of the Board of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).