The Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program is a five-year (2018-2023) initiative undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Australia provided through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Over the last three years, Australia committed AUD 15 million through the ACCESS Program to improve the sustainability, quality and inclusiveness of services for persons with disabilities and for women affected by gender-based violence (GBV). Recently, the Government of Australia has committed an additional AUD 10 million through the ACCESS Program for another two years to make it a five-year Program. ACCESS’ Program logic has been updated to reflect the contribution of the Program to the Cambodian Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, including its priorities on social protection.
ACCESS reflects Australia’s strong commitment to supporting human rights, gender equality and disability-inclusive development in our region.
ACCESS builds on the achievements and lessons from more than a decade of collaboration between the Government of Australia, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and local partners on services and reforms to benefit Cambodians with disabilities or affected by gender-based violence, for example:
- delivering shelter, counselling, legal aid, health and peer support services to 12,907 women and their families affected by violence between 2012 and 2017.
- supporting the RGC to develop the Physical Rehabilitation Transition Plan (2018-2022), the Rehabilitation Sector Strategic Plan (2018-2022) and supporting delivery of community-based rehabilitation services to 10,489 persons with disabilities between 2013 and 2018.
One in five Cambodian women aged 15-64 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime 1. Women with disabilities experience much higher levels of all forms of violence. A 2016 study conducted by the Australian Government-funded Community Policing Initiative showed that GBV is one of the top safety issues concerning communities across Cambodia.
Approximately 9.5 per cent of the Cambodian population over five years of age reported some form of disability 2. National economies lose an estimated five percent of gross domestic product when persons with disabilities do not have equal access to employment 3.
Women’s leadership, gender equality and disability inclusion are central to sustainable development, poverty reduction and economic growth. ACCESS is about working with the RGC, civil society and the private sector to advance the rights of women, girls and persons with disabilities. Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper recognises that societies which protect human rights and gender equality are more likely to be productive and stable over the long-term.
ACCESS supports the RGC to fulfil its mandate as a state party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
1 National Survey on Women’s Health and Life Experiences in Cambodia, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, 2015
2 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS), 2014
3 International Labour Organization, The Price of Exclusion: the Economic Consequences of Excluding People with Disabilities from the World of Work, Geneva, 2009, Table 65, p. 4.
Ending violence against women and promoting disability inclusiveness
ACCESS works in partnership with the RGC to support the implementation of the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women (NAPVAW) and the National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP). ACCESS will contribute to the following outcomes:
Persons with disabilities
- Attain improved health, education and economic outcomes.
- Are able to participate in and contribute to family, community and political life.
- Experience less discrimination.
- Have improved feelings of self-worth, confidence and independence.
Women affected by GBV
- Have access to quality health care, including first line support, care of injuries and urgent medical treatment and forensic examinations.
- Have access to survivor-centred legal protection, including accountability for perpetrators.
- Have access to other coordinated social services, including crisis information, safe shelter, psycho-social support and material aid.
Promoting sustainable services
ACCESS recognises Cambodia’s transition to (lower) middle-income status and increasing access to public and private sector funding. ACCESS works with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA), Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSVY), the Disability Action Council (DAC) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) to plan and use resources more effectively for GBV and disability-related services. This includes more efficient use of existing resources through improvements in coordination, oversight, planning and reporting, in line with NAPVAW and NDSP priorities.
ACCESS is strengthening the capacity of RGC, civil society and private sector service providers to sustainably improve services for persons with disabilities and women affected by GBV. For persons with disabilities, services include physical rehabilitation services, and inclusive economic services. For women affected by GBV, ACCESS is targeting health care, legal protection services, and other critical social services, while supporting a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach to service delivery.
Contributing to sectoral COVID-19 response and recovery strategies
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a substantial contextual change and has impacted ACCESS’ target groups, compounding existing challenges around gender-based violence (GBV) and disability services. Households experiencing poverty and disadvantage – comprised of persons with disabilities and/or women-headed as well as those with children – are facing greater impact from the economic downturn. With social distancing measures and restrictions to mobility, women are more vulnerable to GBV and persons with disabilities are generally more at risk of contracting or being impacted by COVID-19. In addition, and as a result of COVID-19, barriers to accessing services have increased during the pandemic.
In this context, ACCESS Program pivoted its intervention to strengthen the COVID-19 response, recovery, and resilience strategies in the disability and GBV sectors. This includes supporting Personal Protective Equipment and accessible communications materials to GBV and disability service providers, persons with disabilities, and women affected by Gender-Based Violence (GBV) (Please refer to Resources-COVID-19 Resources section for communication materials). The ACCESS program helps ensure that basic services remain available for vulnerable groups during this pandemic through creative initiatives such as remote rehabilitation service delivery, online counselling service and a digital case management application. We support persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to be equipped with digital skills required for the new ways of working.
Key expected end of program outcomes
- Relevant RGC entities plan and utilise their resources more effectively for GBV and disability-related services, in accordance with MEF guidelines
- RGC, civil society and the private sector sustainably improve the coverage, quality and inclusiveness of services for persons with disabilities and women affected by GBV.
Visit the Australian Embassy website for more information about Australia and Australia’s aid program in Cambodia.