Australian leadership in disability inclusion at the 2022 Pacific Satellite Summit

Stories | March 2, 2022

New investment announced and a regional partnership scoping study to take place in 2022.

At the Pacific Satellite Summit held this month, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific announced increased funding for people with disabilities and a scoping study into a new regional partnership to accelerate disability inclusion in the Pacific.

CBM Australia welcomes these new commitments as a pathway to re-establishing credible and strong leadership in disability inclusion in the Australian Aid program.

The announcements came as part of the Minister’s opening address to the summit – which Australia co-hosted with New Zealand, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF). 

The summit was one of a series of satellite summits feeding into the Global Disability Summit. It brought together Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) from across the Pacific Islands, governments, multilaterals and civil society to focus on inclusive education, partnering with OPDs and responding to conflict, crisis and climate change. 

Delegates represented their countries and communities, and many OPD representatives spoke about the urgent and critical need for better capacity building and partnering to enable their important work.

The need for increased investment to support people with disabilities is clear and has been a key foundation of CBM Australia’s advocacy in our region. PDF estimates there are 1.7 million people with disabilities in the Pacific. People with disabilities are less likely to attend school, more likely to be unemployed and generally earn less when employed.

The Minister stated that consultations would begin on a new disability inclusion and rights policy (the previous disability inclusion strategy, Development for all 2015 – 2021, lapsed in December 2021). 

Despite these welcome announcements by government, there is still more work to be done to ensure people with disabilities are fully supported. The disability core budget has fallen by 25 per cent and urgently needs to be increased in the 2022/2023 budget next month. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold devastation to lives and livelihoods across our region and specific investments to support people with disabilities to recover are critical. 

CBM Australia will continue to advocate for disability inclusion to be properly funded to ensure we leave no one behind.

Commitments by Australia at the Pacific Satellite Summit included:

Disability-inclusion and rights policy developed by 2022

The policy will outline Australia’s commitment to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms for all people with disabilities, including through its development cooperation program.

Regional Coordination Mechanism in the Pacific by 2022

Australia will fund a scoping study into establishing a regional body of key partners to enhance and coordinate support for increased inclusion of persons with disabilities in development and humanitarian action.

Increased funding to support OPD priorities by 2022

Australia will increase its multi-year core funding to the Pacific Disability Forum and International Disability Alliance to support OPD priorities.

Strengthen disability inclusion in health security investments

Recognising the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and other health emergencies on people with disabilities, especially women and girls, Australia commits to strengthen the mainstreaming of disability inclusion across our health security programming.

Advancing disability and social inclusion through Australia’s strategic partnerships in 2022

Australia commits to advancing disability inclusion in its new strategic partnerships, including with UN system entities, development banks, and relevant international organisations.

Strengthening disability inclusion within sexual and reproductive health investments supported by Australia

Australia will work with partners in six Pacific Island countries to address barriers people with disabilities face in accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.

Disability Inclusion at the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction September 2022

As co-host of the 2022 Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR), Australia will ensure a strong focus on disability inclusion.

Inclusive social protection

Australia commits to disability inclusion in our support for social protection programs. We will support the design and delivery of comprehensively accessible programs that remove barriers to people with disabilities accessing income support, whilst also addressing the additional costs related to disability.

Supporting the implementation of Timor-Leste’s National Action Plan for People with Disabilities 2021-2030

Australia will support the Government of Timor-Leste and Timorese organisations of people with disabilities to implement the National Action Plan for People with Disabilities 2021-2030.

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