Australia’s Support to Disability Inclusion in Cambodia

Australia’s Support to Disability Inclusion in Cambodia

On 19 August 2021, with support from the Australian Government through the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program, Secretary-General of the Disability Action Council (DAC-SG) and UNDP co-organised a virtual reflection workshop on the progress of project implementation for the period 2019-2021 of five Provincial Disability Action Councils (Pro-DAC).

The objective of the workshop was to discuss Pro-DAC’s achievements, lessons learned and challenges over the past 2 years  to promote collaboration and commitment of key stakeholders at the national and sub-national levels on disability inclusion for all, and discuss the way forward for 2022 and 2023.

UNDP, one of the ACCESS Implementing partners, is implementing the ‘Promote Disability Inclusion’ (PPDI) project from January 2020 till November 2021. PPDI aims to collaborate with DAC-SG to strengthen the coordination and functioning mechanism of five Pro-DACs (Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Siem Reap, and Battambang).

Approximately 114 participants attended the workshop, including DAC-SG, all chairpersons from five Pro-DACs, Deputy Chairpersons and secretariats from the five Pro-DACs, Development partners, Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO), and UNDP. Representative of the Australian Embassy to Cambodia, Ms Elizabeth Adler, Second Secretary at the Australian Embassy was also in attendance, and she provided welcome remarks.

Ms Elizabeth Adler acknowledged the significant progress that had been made collectively under the leadership of the national and subnational DACs in the implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP 2019-2023). She stated, “Disability-inclusive development remains an important agenda of the Australian Aid Program. With the Australian-funded ACCESS Program now officially extended until September 2023, this next Phase 2 will create an ongoing opportunity to continue to support the disability sector in Cambodia.”

HE Prak Thaveak Pheary, Deputy Secretary-General of DAC-SG highlighted the importance of the workshop in the opening remarks and stated that it provided an opportunity for the national and sub-national DACs of the five provinces to collectively share and discuss disability inclusion in their community. She appreciated the support from the Government of Australia, through the ACCESS Program, in particular the two-year extension of the program to support the disability sector in Cambodia.

Participants acknowledged and appreciated the achievements of Pro-DAC in supporting persons with disabilities (PWD). They also identified challenges in areas such as the implementation of NDSP, budget shortages, provision of accessibilities for PWD at the workplace and public service areas, the dissemination of the rights of PWD, and the lack of a monitoring and evaluation system. Moreover, the participants identified key recommendations, including capacity building for Pro-DACs, actively developing technical standards on physical accessibility infrastructure for PWDs, and providing vocational training for PWDs and empowering them to live independent and dignified lives.