Sixth Quarterly Disability Workstream Meeting chaired by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation

Sixth Quarterly Disability Workstream Meeting chaired by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation

On  May 5th 2021, the sixth quarterly disability workstream meeting was held and chaired by the Department of Welfare for Persons with Disabilities (DWPD) of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) with the technical support and coordination of the Australian Government-funded Australia – Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable and Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program.

The objectives of the meeting were to review key progress, and challenges of activity implementation and to identify priorities of the ACCESS Program for the next quarter. This meeting also provided a platform for knowledge sharing and opportunities to identify a collective approach to cope with current and future COVID-19 challenges.

Forty-two participants attended the meeting, comprising of representatives from government counterparts, including the Disability Action Council Secretariat-General (DAC-SG), the Department of Welfare for Persons with Disabilities (DWPD), the Persons with Disabilities Foundation (PWDF), the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), the Ministry of Economic and Finance (MEF), the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Provincial Department of Social, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (PoSVY) from Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Kampong Speu, and seven Implementing Partners of the ACCESS Disability workstream, as well as DFAT representatives.

Welcoming remarks were offered by Mr. Yeap Malyno, Director of DWPD, who chaired the meeting and a DFAT representative updated participants on progress to date. In addition, key updates were presented to those attending by government counterparts from national and sub-national levels as well as designated Implementing Partners (IPs).

Mr. Malyno stated in his remarks that despite the emerging challenges of COVID-19, the Cambodian disability sector made remarkable progress. This includes a 29% and 12% increase in the number of persons with disabilities employed in 2020 by the public and private sector, respectively. He also recognized the support of the IPs, through the ACCESS Program, in the provision of COVID-19 protective materials and prevention messages to persons with disabilities since early 2020. Progress is also visible in the development and implementation of policy frameworks and guidelines such as the launch of the employment App (Oakas), a disability inclusion manual for employers, a training offered on standard physical accessibility to public service providers and employers, the drafting of the new disability law, the dissemination of the budget plan related to the National Disability Strategic Plan, and the development of accessible ramps at the commune level in five provinces including Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Kratie and Battambong. Due to the impact of COVID-19, some challenges remain, such as the 35% decrease of people accessing Physical Rehabilitation Centres in 2020 compared to 2019. However, by working with its IPs (Humanity & Inclusion – HI), the remote rehabilitation services have been introduced to PWDF and Physical Rehabilitation Centres in particular, Kampong Cham province. The training on Digital Skill was also provided to PWDF management team in April 2021 to better coordinate the meeting virtually and process documentation online.

Dr. Ros Chhay, a representative of the Australian Embassy in Cambodia, acknowledged the ACCESS Program’s success and key progress made in the previous quarter despite the lockdown and the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country. He applauded the Royal Government of Cambodia, especially MoSVY, for its commitment to improving services for persons with disabilities. Dr. Ros Chhay added: “Disability-inclusive development remains an important part of the Australian aid program. Our Partnerships for the Recovery Strategy clearly emphasize that our efforts will be inclusive of persons with disabilities, as they face multiple vulnerabilities.”

The ACCESS Program is working in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia and Implementing Partners to prevent Gender-Based Violence (GBV), promote disability inclusion and provide sustainable and equitable services to persons with disabilities and women affected by GBV.