Reflection Workshop focusing on Stage 1 of the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program

Reflection Workshop focusing on Stage 1 of the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program

Mid-September 2021, the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program reflection workshop was organised to take stock of experiences and achievements during Stage 1 of the Program (September 2019 – August 2021) and identify key learnings to use towards program implementation in Stage 2 (July 2021- September 2023).

The reflection workshop is the ACCESS Program’s routine learning exercise which provides an opportunity for relevant program stakeholders to meet, brainstorm and discuss major program successes and issues and propose recommendations for future implementation.

101 participants attended the workshop including representatives from the Australian Embassy to Cambodia, the national and provincial level departments of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), Disability Action Council (DAC), and Ministry of Economic and Finance, as well as the Persons with Disability Foundation, representatives of persons with disabilities, the Ministry of Interior, the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development, Physical Rehabilitation Centres, district officials and Implementing Partners.

In his opening remarks, Dr Ros Chhay, Senior Program Manager of the Australian Embassy to Cambodia stated that it was important for participants to have the opportunity to meet, discuss, and gather the key inputs to be used in the implementation program in stage 2 (July 2021 – September 2023). He hoped that this workshop would give good experiences and lessons learnt to improve the quality of services for gender-based violence survivors and persons with disabilities.

As a remark to the presentation on the program results achieved during Stage 1, H.E Nhean Sochetra, General Director of the Department of Social Development at MoWA, expressed appreciation for the achievements of working in partnership and together, in particular the cooperation between MoWA, MoSVY, DAC, Implementing Partners, and relevant stakeholders to implement activities at national and sub-national level.

During the workshop, participants were divided into discussion groups in the morning and afternoon sessions. The morning sessions reflected on the achievements, challenges, and lessons learned of ACCESS Stage 1 implementation. The afternoon sessions focused on the adaptation and flexibility of the program implementation in the context of the pandemic and how the implementation will adhere to the principles of the ACCESS Program.

To conclude the discussion, key results were selected, which included greater and more effective collaboration among stakeholders from national to community levels. This area was discussed because of the predetermined question of “what did we do well?”.  The answers included greater collaboration amongst service providers at the provincial, district, and commune levels, good collaboration between DAC-MoWA and the Technical Working Group on gender-based violence, and good cross-sectoral collaboration from all levels.

Challenges highlighted included the lack of financial support service provision, increased burden on service providers in the COVID-19 context. Working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic period also created new challenges due to limited digital knowledge of using remote technologies in an effective manner.

Identified areas for improvement consisted of, rapidly acquiring additional expertise in using remote communication technologies, as it is important to keep strengthening and finding ways to improve digital literacy at the community levels. It was suggested that Disability Inclusion should be well integrated across all programs, and engaging persons with disabilities during the program design and law enforcement policies in order to ensure private sector participation.

Based on the on-line completed survey at the end of the event, the workshop was well regarded and rated highly by all participants.