11th Disability Workstream Quarterly Meeting: Reviewing Challenges, Key Achievements, and Next Steps

11th Disability Workstream Quarterly Meeting: Reviewing Challenges, Key Achievements, and Next Steps

On 9 August 2022, the Australia – Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable and Sustainable Services (ACCESS) program organised the 11th Disability Workstream Quarterly Meeting. Mr Sann Ratana, the new director of the Department of Welfare for Persons with Disabilities (DWPD) at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) chaired the meeting.

Participants discussed key achievements and major challenges in the disability workstream over the past year and the most recent quarter, as well as identifying the priorities for the next quarter, including key upcoming events.

Participants included representatives from MoSVY, the Provincial Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (PoSVY), the Disability Action Council Secretariat General (DAC-SG), ACCESS team, ACCESS’ Implementing Partners (IPs) such as ADD International, Chamroeun Microfinance Plc/Good Return (CMP/GR), Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO), Humanity & Inclusion (HI), PAfID, UNDP, and Agile Development Group.

Mr Ratana presented the achievements of the disability sector supported by the Australian Government, through the ACCESS program. As of June 2022, these achievements included 63,176 persons with disabilities who received support and benefited from the COVID-19 cash transfer program. By the end of 2021, 3,621 persons with disabilities (23 percent female) were working in government institutions, and 5,235 persons with disabilities (65 percent female) were working in private companies. There were also other achievements, as highlighted by Mr Ratana, including the improvement of physical rehabilitation services, the drafting of a new disability law, the improvement of physical accessibility infrastructure at several communes, the increase in the number of persons with disabilities accessing economic opportunities and social protection programs, and the effective functioning of the Disability Management Information System (DMIS).

Some highlights presented by IPs were: CDPO reported the engagement between the Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and policymakers to discuss the access to the inclusive social protection program in Cambodia. Lessons learnt were also presented by UNDP, as they relate to responsibility, ownership, capacity building, and monitoring with DAC-SG MEL team.

With regard to upcoming big events, H.E Neth Un, Deputy Secretary General of DAC-SG, presented the program of the 5th Asia Pacific CBID Congress 2023 that the Cambodian government will be hosting.  The date of event was confirmed as 15 – 17 March 2023 in Phnom Penh, and the theme is “Strengthening social and economic empowerment of Persons with Disabilities during and after the COVID-19 pandemic through CBID.” ACCESS has supported several items in preparation for the Congress, including logo design and providing a consultant to support the communications component of the event.

Mr Connor Floyd, Second Secretary of the Australian Embassy to Cambodia, in his closing remarks, applauded the collective achievements of different stakeholders under the coordination of the ACCESS Program. Despite some challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that the PRC in Siem Reap relocated to a new location, the PRC services played an important role in supporting persons with disabilities and was pivotal in providing remote services during the pandemic. “I really appreciate the results achieved during the previous quarter.”

Mr Sann Ratana, concluded the meeting by highlighting the participation of government departments at the national, sub-national level, and IPs as crucial and a major contribution to the implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023. “The meeting today is not only the forum where we presented our key achievements, challenges, but it is a forum where we shared and learned from each other and work in partnership to solve problems” he added.