International Day of People with Disabilities 2022: Virtual Event

Video transcript

A very warm welcome to everyone.

Thank you for joining us
for this special event,

ahead of tomorrow’s International Day

of People with Disabilities for 2022.

I’m Jane Edge, the chief
executive of CBM Australia.

And in keeping

with our disability
inclusive meeting practices,

I’ll also describe what I look like.

I’m a white woman,

with blonde hair, glasses,

and I’m wearing a rust
coloured jacket today

with a matching scarf and a dark top.

I’d also like to introduce
you to Jinaya and Kim,

our interpreters,

who’ll identify themselves
with a hello wave,

if that’s all right, Kim?

Great, and Jinaya, you’re there also?


Welcome to you both,

great to have you join us.

I’d like to also begin by acknowledging

the traditional owners of the
land on which I’m speaking.

The Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung
people of the Kulin nation,

and pay my respects to their Elders,

past, present and emerging.

And I extend that respect
to all First Nations people

who may be present today.

I acknowledge the deep care
of Creation, demonstrated

by our First Nation’s
people over 60,000 years

of custodianship.

I’m really so delighted,

so many of you, could join
us today for this event,

Brighter Futures: Children with
Disabilities in the Pacific.

I know we have a mix of
people joining us today,

current CBM supporters,

colleagues from the aid
and development sector,

who are also passionate about inclusion,

and others who actually may
not know anything about CBM

or our work.

So it’s great to have you all with us.

I’ll tell you a little bit
more about CBM in a moment

and speak about our theme

for International Day of People
with Disabilities this year.

Before introducing our main event,

which is a fabulous interview

between three inspiring leaders

in the disability
movement from our region,

Karni Liddell, a Paralympian,

and Australian disability
rights activists,

Maselina Iuta from the
Deaf Association of Samoa

and Beia Temango from the
Kiribati Association of People

who are blind and vision impaired.

And finally, you’ll be the first audience

to view our International Day

of People with Disabilities
campaign video for 2022.

And which I hope you’ll share
widely via social media today,

tomorrow and beyond.

So again, thank you for being
part of this launch event.

In telling you about CBM,

I’d like to share some
personal reflections

on why I find this work so compelling.

I’ve been blessed to work

in International Aid and
Development for more than 25 years,

and I’ve covered territory

from Timor-Leste to Afghanistan.

And tomorrow,

actually, on International Day
of People with Disabilities,

I celebrate a decade of being part

of this “Movement of the Heart”

that I call CBM’s work,

where justice and inclusion are integral

to how we bring about
the change we wanna see

in the world.

I’ve seen so much freight work

on the ground during my career.

It had a real epiphany in joining CBM,

when I realized that
the most marginalized,

those with disabilities
remained invisible,

literally not counted
and excluded to a degree.

It’s almost impossible for us to imagine

if we have not been part
of that kind of experience.

The reality is that one in
seven people in our world,

live with a disability,

and 80% of them live in poverty.

And more than 214 million are
children with disabilities.

Driven by our Christian values
for more than 114 years,

CBM has been enabling
people with disabilities,

living in poverty to
transform their lives.

In this past year alone,

we’ve worked in more than
20 countries integrating

grassroots projects in
authentic partnership

with local communities,

responding when
humanitarian crisis strike,

and also providing
world-class inclusion advice,

which is influencing and
enabling other organisations

to include people with disabilities.

So think the wider Australian
Aid Program and UN agencies,

such as the World Food Programme.

In raising awareness of the situation

of people with disabilities,

we ensure their voices are heard,

and that’s why this year,

we are bringing a focus to the needs

of children with disabilities.

Partners in the region have
told us this is their priority.

These children,

who are already amongst
the most disadvantaged

have been pushed even
further to the edges,

during and since the global pandemic.

I’ve met many inspiring people

in visiting CBM programs over the years,

and one whose story remains with me

is Gerald from the Philippines.

Now there’s a slide on
the screen here of Gerald,

a young man, dark hair,

sitting at a table,

with a lot of electrical
material lying around,

and what looks like a speaker
that he’s very engrossed

in trying to repair.

Now, Gerald, was born with cerebral palsy

and now uses a wheelchair.

His parents were determined
that he’d get an education

so they would actually carry
him to school each day.

And as a parent myself,

I find that a challenging concept.

They took it in turns to sit
with him in the classroom

so he could see the teacher

and actually learn.

When I met Gerald, he described to me

how difficult his early years really were.

Joining a CBM supported Community Based

Inclusive Development
program transformed his life.

That’s his words.

He gained a wheelchair

and was supported to
do vocational training.

He actually now earns more
than anyone in his family

by repairing mobile phones

and he’s a confident and
active member of his community.

Gerald’s mom, Lita,

spoke of the power of
the leadership program

she and other parents

of children with disabilities undertook

as part of this community based program.

And we certainly all had tears in our eyes

as parents shared,

that without Lita’s
leadership and advocacy,

they would never have known

there was hope for their children.

So CBM has supported that local partner

in implementing this work

and it is scaling impact
across the Philippines.

So thousands of children
with disabilities,

now get the start they deserve.

And the discrimination
and stigma attitudes

that can be the most intractable barriers

have been broken down as children

and young people with disabilities
achieve their potential

and contribute so much
in their communities.

Gerald went on to complete his education,

earn a living,

access basic services,

and have a voice in his community.

And that is what this program

is enabling for thousands of young people.

This is a life world lived with dignity,

with meaning, a sense of belonging,

and contribution.

Dimensions that are at
the heart of our humanity.

Gerald has moved from the margins

to taking that central
place in his community.

And while it might not
be my kind of music,

Gerald is literally the life of the party

in his community.

He’s the DJ now,

because of his electronics expertise,

and he provides the music.

And it was that sense of
belonging that he spoke of,

with most emotion,

that was most meaningful to him.

Now this is a wonderful example

of CBM’s twin-track approach to inclusion.

We focus on the creation
of inclusive societies

where people with disabilities
have that access to social

and development benefits
like everyone else.

With that approach,
people with disabilities,

governments and community based
organisations work together,

addressing the barriers to
meaningful participation

and inclusion.

And at the same time,

we’re ensuring specific services

and supports are put in place

for people with disabilities like Gerald

to really participate

and engaged effectively with government

and other stakeholders.

The reality is just to take one example,

only five to 15% of
people with disabilities,

living in developing countries,

get the assistive technology they need.

Gerald and his wheelchair, for example.

We wanna change that.

And in our region alone,

there are over 100 million
children experience the isolation

and exclusion that Gerald described to me.

So education, assistive devices,

and shifting community attitudes,

will all make the world of
difference to their lives.

The situation of children
with disabilities

is underreported and undersupported.

This is among the key findings

in our towards Brighter Futures report

on children with disabilities
in the Asia Pacific region.

And while information is fragmented,

what we do know is not a good news story.

In Tonga, for example,

only 14% of children with
disabilities attend any kind

of early childhood education

and that’s compared to 30% of
those without disabilities.

This kind of data is
brought to light through

the power of personal stories

and hearing from people

who have lived experience of disability

from childhood through to adult life.

So next up, you’re gonna
hear from from Karni Liddell,

about how her experiences
of being excluded

from opportunities enjoyed
by other children her age,

led her to become a disability advocate

with considerable impact in Australia.

You’ll hear Karni in
conversation with Maselina Iuta

from the Deaf Association of Samoa

and an advocate for disability
rights in the Pacific.

Maselina’s passionate about
climate change adaptation,

inclusive education and inclusive
disaster risk management.

She’s working to ensure that
people with disabilities

are supported to take on
leadership roles in these areas.

Karni will also speak with Beia Temango

from the Kiribati Association of People

who are blind or vision impaired.

And, Beia, advocates
strongly to communities,

NGOs, like CBM and others,

churches and the
government about inclusion.

So let’s hear from Karni,

Maselina and Beia now.

– Hi, I’m Karni Liddell.

I’m a former Paralympian.

They always say there’s no such thing

so I should say, I’m a Paralympian.

I’m a mother to a five
year old boy called Kai.

I’m a social worker.

I have sit on the Premier’s Domestic

and Family Violence Council,

and I’m very proud to be an advocate

and activist for my brothers
and sisters with disabilities.

On 3rd of December,

we celebrate International Day
of People with Disabilities.

So International Day of
People with Disabilities.

This year, CBM Australia will mark the day

by focusing on children with disabilities

in developing countries

and making sure that their
start in life helps ’em thrive

and flourish.

There are around 107.5 million
children in disabilities

in the Indo-Pacific region.

They represent 45% of the world’s children

with disabilities.

These children face many challenges,

including access to education,

access to health care and discrimination.

CBM is calling for greater
investment in these children.

These issues are very close to my heart.

I wanna share a story
about my own education,

childhood, and how important it is

to prioritize the needs of
children with disabilities.

I was born with my disability.

I have a muscle wasting disease,

and my darling parents
were told when I was born

that their first born
child would not walk,

would not crawl,

and would not live past her teenage years.

They were also told,

“Whatever you do,

don’t do any form of exercise
or rehabilitation with her.

Make her as comfortable as possible

and put her into a home.”

I’m very fortunate that I believe

that the only reason I’m here today,

happy, walking.

I need this thing for, like, parking,

and healthy and working

is because I had an
amazing family around me.

I guess for myself,

I didn’t really understand

that I had a disability until
I was about 14 years of age,

which is interesting,

because that was when I
broke my first world record

at 50 metres freestyle.

And the reason I discovered
that I was disabled

at the age of 14 when I
came back to Rockhampton

where I was born,

is that all of a sudden,

my school and my
community were all worried

about public liability,

or Occupational Health and Safety

or what I call ‘risk.’

And the most disabling thing for me,

I believe, is this misconception

that I’m the riskiest person
in this room to support,

serve and employ.

So at the age of 14,

I was told I could no
longer play sport at school.

I could no longer walk up the stairs.

I could no longer do
anything physical anymore.

And from there,

that’s really been my
fight until the age of 43.

And most of us people with disabilities

in Australia live on fight mode,

fighting to do the basics,

fighting for funding,

fighting to fly,

fighting to get on a ride at a theme park.

And those things are very easy to fix

’cause that just means,

of course changing attitudes.

I have traveled the world

and I’ve certainly been to
many developing countries

and I sit here in a $35,000 wheelchair.

My car has a $10,000
hoist in the back of it,

which lifts my wheelchair into the car.

If you take that away from me,

you take away my complete independence.

I also have support workers
now through the NDIS.

Before that, five years ago,

I didn’t have that.

I did everything myself,

very difficulty.

My ageing parents had
to pay for everything,

do everything, pay for the wheelchairs,

help me, and it was a really,

really challenging life.

And the only reason

I can actually be a
working single mother today

is because I have
funding for the equipment

and support I need to
get out the front door

of my apartment.

Unfortunately, when I
open that front door,

we need the community
to open up their doors

because we are the most
unemployed group in this country.

But we’re not here to talk
about Australia today,

we’re here to talk to
two very accomplished,

impressive humans,

who are making a name for
themselves in their own countries

by advocating for the needs
of people with disabilities.

And I know that I often say
I can’t wait for the today

that I can retire from being
an advocate or an activist,

which means that we all
have the same rights

as everybody else.

Maselina Iuta is a 25 year
old disability advocate

from Samoa.

She works for the Deaf
Association of Samoa

and is passionate about climate change

and disaster risk education.

Welcome, Maselina.

Beia Temango is a 26 year
old disability advocate

from Kiribati.

I’m actually gonna get
him to say his name.

He works for the Kiribati
Association of People

who are blind or vision impaired

and he’s passionate
about inclusive education

as we all are.

Thank you both for talking with me today

and traveling all the way here.

I’m excited to have this opportunity

to find out more about your work

and of course, what
happens in your country

with people with disabilities.

I’m really interested in your
own childhood experiences,

it’s probably the social worker in me.

We always start with the childhoods.

So tell me, Maselina,

what was it like for you growing up

in Samoa with a disability?

– [Interpreter] Thank you
so much for the opportunity.

I will share my experience today.

I would like to talk about my
experience when I was a child.

When I am four years old,

I started go to school,

and by that time there’s
no accessible for me.

There’s no interpreter.

I only had my friends around me,

and I always ask for
help in sign language,

and they have no idea how to communicate.

So most of the time,

I feel neglected, I feel sad.

And I started become focusing

on school without interpreters,

and my teacher was trying
to teach me verbal,

and it’s really hard.

It’s very difficult for me,

most of the time, I don’t understand,

and I’m trying to ask
them to use sign language,

but they always say, no,

I need to learn how to speak.

So when I go home,

my grandmother, trying
to teach me how to speak,

and how to communicate.

So when I go everywhere

I can able to speak.

My grade in school is not good.

I always fail most of
my childhood education.

And when I started to meet sign language,

deaf in 2012,

that is the first time that I saw

and it’s gimme courage,

that I have found the support for me.

– Beia, I’m gonna get you
to say your entire name,

’cause I am from a place

that you’ve probably never heard of,

just like I hadn’t actually
heard of your country,

which I apologize for.

I’m from a place called Rockhampton,

which is the beef capital of Australia.

So I’ve got a very Australian accent.

So would you mind to
saying your full name?

– My name is Beia,

and my father’s name is Temango.

– Beautiful.

And your story’s a little bit different

because you weren’t born with
your disability, were you?

– In 2014 when I was 12 years old,

and I’ve got blind,

I’m caught a blindness.

I feel a very difference

because when I’m…

I had no more vision

and I can access everywhere.

When I walk once to school,

I can access properly,

when I wants to sport,

can I sport independently.

But when I have a disability in 2014

and everything that I already did.

I have very difference

because when I wants to sport,

I can’t access to sport.

When I wants to…

In school, I can’t access to school

because no equipment that I can use

to in mainstreaming.

– So I talked a little bit before

at the beginning about the label

of being ‘the riskiest
person’ everywhere I go,

disables me more than my own disability.

Let’s talk about the stigma

and the labels that are
attached to you in your country,

in Samoa.

– [Interpreter] That is most,

that is one of the most
challenge that we face

is the discriminate and stigma
of children with disability

and it’s that it’s all
started from families.

Children can’t access to education

and they can’t support them

and encourage them so
they can become confidence

and able to be in school.

So we really want to teach
our people with disability

to become…

Encourage them to become brave,

and be able to go

and be as the same

as other people without disability.

And I also feel like there’s a lot of work

that we need to do with our families

and people that around us,

that people with disability need us there.

So they have the same rights as others.

They need to teach them to be accepted

and I believe that it’s something

that we can do to stop that.

– Here in Australia,

people with disabilities are
the most unemployed group

in the country,

and Australia is one
of the worst countries

in the Western world

for employment of people
with a disability.

Is that the case in your country?

– Yes, yes, it is the same.

There’s a few opportunities
for employment.

Sometimes there’s lack of support.

It is experience for me to
know that is not only us,

and it give us the
courage to keep advocate,

advocate for the support,

support for people with disability

to make sure they have the equal rights

for access in employment.

Some people think that it’s hard

and some people think it is easy.

So it is something that
we have to think about

that we can do it and encourage

and advocate the government

for more employment opportunities.

– Beia, just recently,

I was flooded in Brisbane

and I lost everything in the floods

and I discovered that,

obviously in a flood,

I lost my wheelchair,

my accessible electric bed,

and I found that people with
disabilities were very left out

of the flood recovery services

’cause we couldn’t get
accommodation that was accessible.

I couldn’t get a wheelchair

’cause there was no wheelchairs around,

there was six months wait for wheelchairs.

In regards to where you live,

how are people with disabilities supported

when a disaster like
a cyclone or a tsunami

or in my case, a flood happens?

– In our country,

and there’s a Met office

is looking for the emergency warning.

Yeah, it’s like a strong wind,

rains and every emergency warning.

And in the past,

when they did announcement to the public

to prepare themselves before

the strong wind coming

and they already forgot about
persons with disabilities.

Especially persons,

deaf persons,

because when they did the
announcement through the radio

and all deaf persons can’t
hear that announcement,

only persons that can hear,

can receive that information,

access to information
about emergency warning.

But they forgot about persons
with disabilities that…

This is in the past.

But now, after the…

We advocate and we advocate
to talk to the governments

and they, for now,

when they did the
announcements to the public

to prepare themselves before the big waves

or the strong wind,

and they did in every social media,

because they include the
needs of deaf persons

and especially blind person for a…

They can access to information
about the emergency warning.

And for now, these are very,

we can access to information.

Deaf persons can receive
information from the Met office

to provide, to prepare
themselves before the emergency.

And we have food accessible

and we can access

to information from doing…

After we advocates to the government.

– Maselina, what about in your country

when it comes to subtitles and
interpreters with disasters?

– [Interpreter] Yes, it
is the same experience.

Like before, we don’t have the opportunity

for our preparation for disaster risk.

But at the moment,

we have access

in educating our people with disability

in preparedness of disaster,

because before there’s
no access in information

and sometimes they use subtitle,

but deaf people can’t read,

and they always rely on their families

to give them gestures about
preparedness for any disaster.

So there’s a little
information they get from that.

And one of the biggest
achievements that we have

is opportunity for us to provide

for people with disabilities.

And we’re able to educate them

and ask them and give them
the support that they need,

like the interpreters on TV

and on videos as well.

And also our advocacy
organisation back there

have represent in disaster
risk management chairs.

So there’s a person with disability

who’s able to give
advice to the government

for make sure that they are
include people with disability

in whatever they do,

like, in planning,

and what are they do after the disaster.

This is a great opportunity for us,

as Beia said,

that before it’s the people who are deaf

is the most vulnerable people

because they can’t hear

and they have little
understand in disaster.

And that is one of the reason

that I am happy to sit in this.

I have this opportunity

so I can advocate more

to make sure that information

and all the resources that
they need for the support

of people with disability
have the understand

and have the resources

and make sure the governments are able

to support their needs.

And the most important
thing is have them consulted

because we believe in that mandate:

that nothing about us without us.

We love to see more disability
people sitting on the table,

asking them what they really wants

to get out from that discussion,

what they really needs
to support them with,

when it becomes to this
vulnerable group that we are.

– That’s right.

And also, that’s a great way

to employ people with
disabilities, isn’t it?

By having us at the table.

So it is International Day
of People with a Disability.

If I could give you a magic
wand (laughs) right now,

what’s your biggest wish for your brothers

and sisters with
disabilities in your country?

– [Interpreter] I think my bigger wish

is more collaboration,

more collaboration with the government,

our international partners,

and able to network

with our People with
Disability organisation

so that we can share our ideas

and able to learn

from our small island countries.

And, yeah, that we able to what…

After this meeting,

we able to bring our experience,

our ideas back,

especially in our development countries.

– Beia, what would be your big wish?

Magic wand, you can gimme more than one

for this International Day
of People with Disability

for your country.

– Yes. (coughs)

I want to make more advocacy

to the government

to make sure all public places

are accessible for
persons with disabilities

and also with the terminal.


It provide an accessible places

for persons with disabilities
when they need…

When they access to the airport

and they can fully accessible.

Especially in education, we are…

I want to make my advocacy

to the government to improve

and to be support more,

more support for the,

to the Ministry of Education.

So to all mainstream
that are provided there

and we want to asking for
the government to support,

to provide more equipment for persons

or for students with
disabilities around the country.

– There is so much to be done

to ensure a better future for
children with disabilities

and also, us, adults, in the Pacific.

It’s been wonderful to be
able to talk to you today

and learn about your childhood,

your experiences, and your passion

for making the world a better place.

I wanna thank you,

as a fellow advocate,

and as a person with the disability

because even in this country,

schools aren’t actually fully
inclusive or accessible.

So it’s really important for
Australians to know that.

But it’s also important
to Australians to know

that we can also help other people

in other countries that are
only getting $4,000 wheelchairs

and also unable to access
interpreter services,

just to be able to do the basic,

which is communicate
with others and connect.

Thank you so much for your time today

and everything you’ve done for us.

– Well, what a powerful
conversation to really set the scene

and to challenge and encourage all of us

as we come into International Day

of People with Disabilities.

And what I would reflect on actually

is what we heard in that interview,

which is effectively,

people with disabilities inviting us all

to this conversation for a better world.

And I do hope you’re encouraged,

as I am,

to spend more time listening
to the life stories

and day-to-day challenges
of people like Beia,

Maselina, Gerald, and Karni.

They show us what’s possible
for children with disabilities

when they have a supportive parent

or teacher or assistive devices

as supplied at critical
times in their development,

and when the barriers of stigma

and discrimination are broken down.

We wanna see this happen
for the tens of millions

of children still being left behind.

That’s why our campaign this
year is My Start Counts,

because investing in those early years,

means children with disabilities get

what they need to thrive.

So let’s see some examples
of that transformation

in the lives of some special children

in our 2022 campaign video.

– [Interpreter] Education
is a universal human right.

While many children get the
start in life they deserve,

too many do not.

Children with disabilities
in developing nations

are among the most disadvantaged
people in the world.

With one in three, not
attending primary school.

It’s estimated that even
fewer get the care they need

in the first years of life.

But, we lack reliable
data about these children

and the barriers that hold them back.

They are simply not being counted.

Yet, we know that if children
are given a strong start,

then the cycle of poverty

and disadvantage can be broken.

When barriers to an
education are taken away,

children make their opportunity count.

Pearl Anne’s family,

who are trained to help her,

develop her mobility and motor skills.

Today, she is more independent

and walks to school.

(Pearl Anne speaking in
foreign language) English.

– [Interpreter] For Ian,
school was not a place

he wanted to be until the
toilets he could use were built.

(Ian speaking in foreign language)

Aliah benefited from therapeutic exercises

in her early years

and is now thriving at her local school.

(Aliah speaking in foreign language)

Millions more children
deserve a strong start

in life to be counted,

included and empowered with an education.

– My Start Count now,

because I can learn.

– My Start Counts, because I have friends.

– My Start Count.

(inspiring upbeat music)

– Wow, what a star cast.

Every child matters,

every child deserves the chance
to fulfill their potential.

And every month and every year count

in the stages of child development.

So we are now gonna share a slide

that has our website details,

Please use that website

or use the barcode with
the camera on your phone.

That’ll pop up shortly.

What’s important though is
to be sharing this video

and you can do so by
accessing those links.

Please post this on social media.

Follow the hashtag of
#MyStartCounts, in particular,

because together, we can
make our voices heard.

We can stand in real
solidarity with those caught

in a cycle of poverty in disability,

and we can make it clear

that children everywhere
deserve to be counted.

Again, you can download

our Brighter Futures research
summary from the website.

We know from our advocacy efforts at CBM

and with our partners

that when we rally to the call

by people with disabilities
for inclusion and for equity,

that our government and
others in our region

will pay more attention.

Significant change is actually happening

and being a good ally,

is about creating this progress.

Allyship is active, not passive,

and it’s about lifting others

and creating platforms for them

so that their voices are heard,

like the interviews and the
video we’ve shared today.

So I wanna say a huge thanks to all of you

for your time today,

for being part of this work.

We value your support

and look forward to continuing

to build a more inclusive world,

a world where every child
with a disability is valued

and supported to achieve
their full potential.

Thank you again for your support.