Extreme poverty has increased for the first time in 20 years, impacting more than 150 million people globally.

Fuelled by concurrent crises – climate change, global conflict, and the COVID-19 pandemic – food and housing insecurity is more widespread than ever. These extreme events disproportionately impact people with disabilities.  

Currently, one in five of the poorest people living in developing countries has a disability. People with disabilities experience lack of access to employment, education, vital health services and social exclusion.  

But, with adequate support and financial investment from governments, these alarming statistics can be avoided.

It is imperative for development and humanitarian organisations like CBM Australia, and our supporters, to sustain efforts in advocating to governments. We continue to call for increased investment in the Australian Aid program, so the needs of the most marginalised are represented and adequately invested in.  

Add your voice to the calls for an equal world for all and be part of the growing chorus of allies committed to fighting for equity for the most marginalised.

Join us in shifting the dial on disability equity in the Pacific

One in six people globally has a disability, including 700 million people in the Asia-Pacific region alone.

People with disabilities are unequivocally among the most marginalised in any context and are routinely excluded. 

Australia used to be a global leader in disability inclusive development, though over the last decade, our leadership has waned, even in the face of growing needs.

Add your voice to the call for the Foreign Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific to ensure that the new Disability Equity and Rights strategy is ambitious, accountable and resourced

CBM Australia's Policy Notes

The CBMA policy notes provide a high level overview of our understanding and policy position on relevant topics, and outlines our engagement with these areas in conjunction with our partners and other areas of the organisation. 


Women's delegation including CBM and ADDC to Parliament House, Canberra

Investment in disability inclusion in Australia’s aid program

In 2021, the Federal Government slashed the critical disability central allocation in the aid budget by 25%, down from its previous level of $12.9 million. CBM, with our allies and supporters like you, advocated strongly to the Government and all political parties around the importance of the central allocation for ensuring that people with disabilities aren’t left behind in Australia’s development efforts.

In the October 2022 budget, our efforts led to a positive result when the disability central allocation was restored to $12.9m. We welcomed this positive development and called for the allocation to be further increased in future, initially to $14.4m with annual increases from that point.

We were disappointed that the most recent Federal Budget, in May 2023, held the central allocation at $12.9m. We will continue to advocate for further increases to this modest but powerful investment in the Australian Aid program.

Disability inclusion strategy to guide Australia’s aid program

In 2009, Australia led the way as the first donor country to establish a stand-alone disability inclusive development strategy. The internationally acclaimed Development for All strategy created the foundation for the more ambitious Development for All 2015–2020, furthering Australia’s commitment to the inclusion of people with disabilities. These strategies, with accompanying investment both through a disability central allocation and through mainstream aid programming, and strong, visible international advocacy and influencing, provided the basis for Australian leadership at a global level.

From this strong foundation, however, there has more recently been a decline in funding, disability performance and now a lack of strategic direction with the current Development for All having expired at the end of 2021, leaving a major policy gap in Australia’s international aid program.

CBM has been calling for the development of a new strategy to guide policy and programming on disability inclusion across Australia’s aid program for years. So, we warmly welcomed the announcement by the Minister for International Development and the Pacific in November 2022 of the development of a ‘Disability Equity and Rights Strategy’ for the aid program, to begin in 2023. Many of our advocacy supporters joined us in emailing the Minister offering thanks for this important step.

CBM is now engaging with Government, and allies and partners in the disability movement, to influence the direction and delivery of the strategy to ensure it is ambitious, accountable, well resourced, and based on extensive and meaningful engagement with people with disabilities and their representative organisations. 

Nelly Caleb standing in front of a group of people with disabilities in Vanuatu.

Giving evidence on the inquiry into democracy in the region

In late 2022, CBM Australia and the Australian Disability & Development Consortium (ADDC) provided a joint submission to the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into democracy in our region. Australia has made a commitment to leave no one behind by 2030. For this commitment to be realised, people with disabilities, along with other marginalised groups, must no longer experience barriers to accessing education, employment, infrastructure, health or gender equality.

We were pleased to be invited to expand on our submission by providing evidence to a public hearing of the committee on this inquiry, in March 2023.

Our three recommendations to the government on this matter were to:  

  1. Support partner governments to fully implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  2. Increase direct funding to Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) by increasing the central-disability allocation within the ODA program.
  3. Develop a strategy to overcome barriers to authentic partnership with civil society in our region.

Disability inclusion is wide-reaching and intersects all programs, sectors and contexts of Australian development assistance. Through meaningful partnerships, Australia can support stability and good governance in our region and overcome barriers to inclusion.  

My Start Counts

Children with disabilities in developing countries are among the most marginalised and excluded. Almost half of all children with disabilities live in the Asia-Pacific region. They face a difficult start to life and experience barriers to health, education and support systems that often wed them to a life of poverty.

We reached out to supporters to build awareness of this critical issue and opportunity for Australia to do more. We invited supporters to write to their local MP and Senators ahead of the Federal Election, calling for action in the fight for equality for children with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. To make a tangible difference in the lives of our closest neighbours, it’s vital our politicians understand that disability inclusion is a priority for Australians, including within our international aid program.

We reached 297,495 supporters – including key decision-makers – and encouraged them to be champions for children with disabilities. With your help, we’ve taken steps to help make their start count.

Read more about the situation of children with disabilities in our region.  

My Start Counts