What Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) value about our advocacy work

Stories | May 12, 2022

Working closely with local organisations of people with disabilities is critical to CBM’s work, but are we doing it well?

This was the question we asked when embarking on the research for our pivotal new report, “We have a key role now”: Lessons learned from partnerships with organisations of persons with disabilities(OPDs) to understand what is working well and what could be strengthened in our partnership approach with organisations of persons with disabilities. The report was informed by a listening exercise undertaken by CBM Australia’s quality team across 14 countries and 32 Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs). Through the enquiry we documented the benefits, challenges and emerging issues related to our advocacy, field programs and advisory work. Recognising the power dynamic of being an international organisation, we wanted particularly to understand areas where CBM could be better aligned to its commitments to human rights and partnership. The findings have offered up valuable lessons and we aim to share these widely with the international development community as an example of what partnership can mean.  


Let’s take a closer look at how CBM and OPDs work together on advocacy initiatives.  

CBM works with OPDs to advocate for inclusion and the recognition of rights at an international, national and community level. This is done through engaging with OPDs and peak disability bodies to model meaningful participation of people with disabilities in public affairs and political processes.  

OPDs have consistently commended CBM for their OPD-first and ‘behind the scenes’ approach to advocacy that: 

  • models accessibility; 
  • helps OPD’s form connections and access CBM’s network of disability advocates; 
  • urges governments and UN bodies to consult people with disabilities; 
  • provides guidance and education on developing advocacy strategies; and 
  • supports OPDs develop resources. 

As well as working with international OPDs, through our field programs we also support OPDs to advocate to local or national governments to raise issues of exclusion and rights. Behind the scenes, we fund important local travel and meetings and develop accessibility resources to help make this happen. We then link with these leaders of the disability movement in advancing joint advocacy agendas. This “opening doors” approach has resulted in OPDs telling their stories directly at high-level technical discussions, including the UN General Assembly.  

One international OPD reflected that, “OPDs are more able to stand up for their rights in front of government and shout for their rights. NGOs have also been invited to training and are now more inclined to include working with people with disabilities.”  

CBM models accessibility by involving OPDs in projects to raise awareness of disability issues and accessibility. An example of this is CBM working with the Bandung Independent Living Association (BILIC) to lead accessibility audits of local hospital facilities and raise awareness around accessibility with authorities. 

CBM is proud to support OPDs in advocating for inclusion and the recognition of rights at all levels of society and is thrilled at the positive change this is bringing about for people with disabilities. We hope these approaches can inspire others in the sector to take steps to support the advocacy efforts of OPDs throughout the world and strengthen partnerships in the process.    

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