Partnering for strengthened outcomes and impact

No one should be isolated or marginalised just because they have a disability. Our community-level programs provide opportunities for people with disabilities in developing countries to understand their rights, access opportunities and become agents for local change. CBM works with local partners including local Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs), so that people with disabilities influence local decisions, including how we work.

CBM Australia supports people with disabilities and their families to take pathways out of poverty and exclusion, ultimately benefiting the whole community. We strive for social justice and to end the cycle of poverty and disability.

COVID-19 set CBM and our partners a clear challenge: to make sure no one was left behind in country-level responses. The pandemic exposed gross inequality and highlighted discrimination faced by people with disabilities. 

International programs and Inclusion Advisory Group

CBM’s International Programs (IP) and Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) responded swiftly to the pandemic. IP partners adapted work in eye health, inclusive community initiatives, mental health and humanitarian responses. We were thrilled that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) allowed flexible use of our Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) grant. Partners addressed new and pressing needs such as accessible public health messages, protective personal equipment (PPE), emergency provisions and additional training. 

IAG programs focused on ensuring that people with disabilities were included in the COVID-19 responses of other organisations, including the Australian Government. IAG worked with OPDs across the Indo-Pacific to conduct a rapid-needs assessment for DFAT, highlighting the urgent needs of people with disabilities. 

Four people sitting around a table at a conference in Vanuatu.
Healthcare workers wearing blue uniforms, latex gloves and surgical masks with their arms raised and crossed at the wrists.

COVID-19 responses

CBM has directly supported people with disabilities, their families and communities to respond to the pandemic. We also generated evidence to illustrate the experience of the pandemic on people with disabilities; evidence empowers partners to advocate to their governments. And governments themselves made changes to include people with disabilities in COVID-19 responses. 

Our eye-health partners joined their governments’ priority to address COVID-19, so that hospital services moved to focus on COVID-19, reducing eye-care services. Despite this, our partners at the time in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Nigeria, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Nepal responded to unique challenges including rotating medical teams, ensuring that emergency eye care and critical surgery were available once COVID-safe practices were in place. A number of partners worked with OPDs to ensure critical care packages (hygiene and food) were available to people with disabilities.