Fellows achieving success in building disability inclusion

Iag, Stories | November 30, 2023

A project funded by an Australian Philanthropist to build disability inclusion in Asia and the Pacific has just passed its midway point and participants are hailing it as a success for both their careers and for disability-inclusive development.

Equity Trustees has provided foundational funding to CBM Australia for a project that builds capacity within the disability movement to advise governments and international development partners to address this chasm.

Four persons sitting around a round table with a tablecloth in front of a board with post its. One woman on the left is sitting in a wheelchair and is wearing a headscarf. The woman next to her has dark hair in a ponytail and is wearing a blue shirt. The man at the back of the table is wearing envision glasses, has dark hair and wears a dark jacket. The woman on the right front has blond hair, wears glasses and a light shirt.
Image: Project Fellows at a workshop in Jakarta.

Over the two years of the project, CBM Global’s Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) is working alongside OPDs to complement and catalyse on existing initiatives and strengthen the Disability Movement as a whole, building others’ capacity to drive lasting systemic change in the region. 

In Asia, we have been working with the International Disability Alliance (IDA) to deliver a fellowship supporting six individuals from the disability movement to translate disability inclusion into practice and provide inclusion advice to international development stakeholders. In the Pacific, we are working on additional capacity development activities with nine OPDs, co-delivered with our partner the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF).  

After a more structured start to the fellowship with an orientation webinar series and face to face workshop, the fellows have now launched more into on-the-job learning. Both CBM Global and IDA provide learning opportunities for our fellows, and fellows are also increasingly identifying opportunities for us to support them in their own work, and we’re loving working together in this way! 

One of our fellows landed a significant advisory contract, using support from the fellowship. She received guidance from her fellowship mentor through the application process and interviews. She is using her technical knowledge and information from fellowship webinars and workshops to help inform the work. We’ve been able to link her to world experts on the topic for further technical support and tapped into our global networks, so that she can talk to others about how the process was rolled out in their country. 

She shared: “Without the fellowship I think it would take me another 3-5 years to be doing this kind of work.” 

Another fellow applied facilitation techniques learned in the fellowship for recent workshops he facilitated with other OPDs from his country. He described how his facilitation style has evolved to incorporate more interactive activity-based learning, including setting tasks for participants to work on and providing them with coaching and mentoring along the way. 

Another fellow is accessing mentoring and writing support as he coordinates a process of national disability inclusion progress monitoring. 

To coincide with International Day of People with Disabilities on December 3, 2023, UNFPA Asia and the Pacific have published a collection featuring profiles of the six fellows taking part in the program, who are creating a better world by building better systems to uphold the fundamental human rights of people with disabilities.

Another exciting development has been a link up with the Disability Debrief, with some fellows also exploring their journalistic skills, we may well see some Debrief contributors in time. 

The fellows are building up their portfolios with all this practical work, and the portfolio process is designed to provide a structured process to really reflect on their own learning. 

The project facilitation team is working on keeping up with the fellows and ensuring they are cultivating a sustainable community of peer and emotional support as well as technical knowledge and skills. 

This work would not be possible without the generosity and support of philanthropists and trusts such as Equity Trustees who supported CBM Australia’s vision to grow the impact of the Inclusion Advisory Group, which has provided advisory and capacity-building experiences in Australia for more than a decade. This project will ultimately equip governments and organisations across Asia and the Pacific with a greater knowledge and understanding of disability inclusion, from people with disabilities themselves, so they can drive this wave of change to ensure better outcomes for people with disabilities across the region, leading to a more inclusive, equal, and just Asia-Pacific region.

Support our work

With the pilot program showing such strength, CBM Australia is seeking partners to scale up this pilot and ensure we capitalise on the current momentum. If you’re interested in supporting our work please contact Katherine Pengilly, Head of Philanthropy & Relationships kpengilly@cbm.org.au or 0488 100 671.

For more information 

Visit our Fellowship page 

Visit our project page

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