Fourth Dialogue on Disability-Inclusive Social Protection and the Restoration of the Livelihoods of Persons with Disabilities in the Post- COVID-19 period

Fourth Dialogue on Disability-Inclusive Social Protection and the Restoration of the Livelihoods of Persons with Disabilities in the Post- COVID-19 period

“This meeting presents a significant opportunity for Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) to share concerns and challenges with policymakers”, stated Ms Cheat Sokha, Head of the Spinal Cord Injury Association, while addressing the participants of the fourth dialogue between policymakers and OPDs on “Disability-Inclusive Social Protection and Restoration of the Livelihoods of Persons with Disabilities in the Post-COVID-19 period” that was conducted on 9 May 2022. She added, “I will share key recommendations from this dialogue today with local authorities for their consideration, and to influence future actions towards inclusive support to address the needs of persons with disabilities. I want to convey my message to encourage persons with disabilities to be confident and actively involved in society.”

H.E Samheng Boros, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Social Affairs Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) stated in the opening remarks, “The continuation of our strong partnership resulting in collective action is key to addressing the outstanding needs of persons with disabilities.”

Mr Connor Floyd, Second Secretary at the Australian Embassy to Cambodia expressed in his remarks: “I am confident that with strong commitment and active participation of OPDs representatives, the high commitment of policy makers and services provides we can address remaining challenges.”

This dialogue was co-organised by the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO) and MoSVY, with support from the Australian Government through the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program. The purpose of the dialogue was to understand the level of involvement of the OPDs and their members in the framework of social protection and disability inclusion, to understand and identify possible opportunities to improve livelihoods and economic opportunities for persons with disabilities and to create a platform for ongoing dialogue between policymakers and persons with disabilities on inclusive social protection and livelihood restoration.

Mr Floyd added: “I would like to express my greatest appreciation for the willingness demonstrated by H.E Samheng Boros, H.E Chhour Sokpanha, and Mr Yeap Malyno to provide a space for OPDs to express their needs and provide suggestions.”

Mrs Mak Monika, Executive Director of CDPO, who facilitated the dialogue led the participants through discussions on social protection and how persons with disabilities can get involved and benefit from it, access to employment through the digital platform (Oakas App) that is led by the Department of Welfare for Persons with Disabilities, and access to vocational training and other job opportunities.  Additionally, three guest speakers from MoSVY and the National Employment Agency were also invited to address the participants, where MoSVY highlighted that 237,145 persons with disabilities, including 47 per cent women, had been enrolled in the Disability Identification Program since early 2021, which is a significant step towards improving access to social protection schemes, social care, and livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities.

To conclude the meeting, H.E Samheng Boros emphasised the role of OPDs in the representation of the voices of persons with disabilities. He remarked that many suitable clients are missing out on available support services simply due to unawareness of the extensive range of disability support type services that are being offered.   Consequently, he and his team plan to visit persons with disabilities at the community level in the upcoming months after the commune election in June 2022. He also suggested creating a Telegram group for OPDs and policymakers to easily communicate with each other.

CDPO is one of ACCESS’s 14 Implementing Partners that represents OPDs/Women with Disabilities Federation (WWDFs) nationally and advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities. CDPO is a membership-based non-governmental organisation with a national network of 75 OPDs/WWDFs.