Australia Supports National and Sub-National Workshops to Develop a Workplan for Persons with Autism in Cambodiagiant
The Australian Government, through the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program, supported the national and sub-national workshop to develop a workplan to support persons with autism in Cambodia. These workshops are a significant step towards addressing the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, particularly those with autism.
The ACCESS program has been working with a number of partners in the disability sector to formulate and develop multisectoral approaches to the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in general and in particular, those with autism.
The workshop brought together a range of stakeholders from the disability sector, including representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Disability Action Council Secretariat General (DAC-SG), the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, the National Employment Agency, the National Institute for Special Education (NISE), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Health, and Parents Association of Children with Autism.
The national workshop was held on 24th and 25th of April 2023 in Phnom Penh and attended by 90 participants (31 of whom were female). It provided an opportunity for participants to review current levels of awareness of autism in Cambodia, and to develop an action plan that focuses on supporting three distinct life phases of persons with autism: early intervention; school years; and transition from school to adult life. The sub-national workshop, scheduled for the 26th and 27th of April in Kampong Cham, will build on the discussions from the national workshop.
H.E Em Chan Makara, Secretary of State at MoSVY, and General Director of DAC-SG provided opening remarks at the workshop and emphasized the need for multi-sectoral solutions to the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, especially those with autism, visual impairments, and intellectual disabilities. He also thanked the representatives of persons with disabilities and their families, as well as other relevant stakeholders within the disability sector and other closely linked sectors for their continued participation and support.
The workshop highlighted the challenges faced by families that have children with autism, including low income levels, difficulty seeking and receiving support services, and discrimination. Mr Sor Chanrithy, the representative of parents and guardians of children with autism, noted that the National Institute for Special Education (NISE) has a special class to support children with autism, there is still a long way to go in terms of providing adequate support and services.
Mr Sasha Cigljarevic, Deputy Team Leader, ACCESS Program, congratulated the government counterparts and implementing partners for their great work in the disability sector, specifically in partnership with the ACCESS Program. He emphasized the importance of applying the recent findings of the Situational Analysis for Persons with Autism in Cambodia, which prescribe a set of technically sound professional standards, in the development of the workplan to consider the distinct life phases of persons with autism across Cambodia and the challenges faced by families that have children with autism.
In conclusion, the national and sub-national workshops on workplan development to support persons with autism in Cambodia are a significant step towards addressing the challenges faced by the disability community. The Australian Government’s support through the ACCESS Program is commendable, and the collaborative efforts of the government and stakeholders in the disability sector are crucial in developing multisectoral solutions to these challenges.