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News Update

1. Lack of accessibility is a challenge for persons with disabilities - Accessing quality education and proper employment opportunities is still a challenge for youths with disabilities in the Pacific. While the protection and promotion of disability rights and interest for persons with disabilities in the Pacific is progressing, there is still more that needs to be done to ensure that youths with disabilities in the Pacific have full access to education and employment opportunity

2. Skill development a challenge for youth with disabilities - Youths with disabilities in the Solomon Islands find it hard to access skills development and entrepreneurship training due to discriminatory treatments. These were the words of the Pacific Disability Forum’s Youth Co-chair Mr Charlie Maeke.

Lack of accessibility is a challenge for persons with disabilities

 Accessing quality education and proper employment opportunities is still a challenge for youths with disabilities in the Pacific. While the protection and promotion of disability rights and interest for persons with disabilities in the Pacific is progressing, there is still more that needs to be done to ensure that youths with disabilities in the Pacific have full access to education and employment opportunities.

Naunau O’E Alamaite Tonga Association (NATA) youth President Ms. Ana Pela Talakai said, that more needs to be done to ensure full access to education for persons with disabilities in Tonga. In her presentation at the Pacific Youth Conference on Disability, Talakai said despite the existence of three disability schools in Tonga, challenges remains for the full access to education for persons with disabilities.

Talakai added that there is a need to advocate and lobby for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to ensure full accessibility.

She highlighted the absence of ramps, assistive technologies, sign language teachers, accessible transportation and buildings and budget allocation for persons with disabilities is depriving them from enjoying everyday life as normal.

Furthermore, Ms. Rosy Kissun of the Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation stressed the need to enforce current laws that protects the interest of persons with disabilities in Fiji.

She said that while the Employment Regulation Promulgation in Fiji ensures the inclusion of persons with disabilities in employment opportunities, the lack of enforcement by relevant enforcement agencies in implementing this law is proving to be a hindrance for persons with disabilities to obtain decent employment.

Kissun believes that the lack of knowledge that employers have on the accessible needs of persons with disabilities, the stigma that society have for persons with disabilities and the lack of enabling working environment often limits employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

She stressed the need for DPO to work together with the government to review the building code and current legislations and policies on employment and education to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities and strengthen partnership and action towards a disability inclusive society.

Skill development a challenge for youth with disabilities

 Youths with disabilities in the Solomon Islands find it hard to access skills development and entrepreneurship training due to discriminatory treatments.

These were the words of the Pacific Disability Forum’s Youth Co-chair Mr Charlie Maeke.

Speaking at the Pacific Youth Regional Conference on Disability, Maeke said accessibility to education and employment opportunities for youths with disabilities in the Solomon Islands is a challenge.

“It is a challenge for youth with disabilities in the Solomon Islands to access scholarships for the TVET program and getting enrolled to the program, is virtually impossible as priorities are given to young people without disabilities,” said Mr. Maeke

While DPO’s plays an important role to lobby for the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of people with disabilities, governments play a vital role in ensuring that persons with disabilities are included in their programs.

Maeke further said that employment is another major challenge as they were not accepted in the work industry due to their disabilities.

“Most of our youth in Solomon Islands wants to start our small business on the trade that we have, but because of our disability we are not entitle for loan scheme and there is limited access to information on skills development that are available for young people,” he said.

Maeke emphasised the need for governments, development partners and stakeholders together with Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) to include young people with disabilities in skills development and other training programs.

He said it was vital that youths with disabilities be equipped with the knowledge on how to write business plans, be financial literate and be able to develop project proposal for small businesses.

News Update 2

Regional conference ensures women with disabilities voices are heard

 Women with disabilities in the Pacific regardless of income, location, disability, age or ethnic group must participate fully, freely and safely in political, economic and social life, according to Suzanne Bent, the First Secretary, Gender Equality, Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Speaking at the 4th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability, Ms. Bent said the Women’s Regional Conference on Disability was relevant because it allow development partners, CSOs, NGO’s and other stakeholders to hear the concerns of women with disabilities in the Pacific.

“We acknowledge, more needs to be done to ensure the issues and concerns of women with disabilities are brought to the table and presented by the women themselves, and that action is then taken to respond,” she said.

This, she said, was part of the approach for Pacific Women, a ten-year regional program with a AUD $320M budget commitment to work across 14 Pacific Island Countries. The program works towards the empowerment of women and their full participation in the society they live in.

“The delivery approach recognises that the change needed starts from the individual level, through to the family, community and national levels.  It needs to happen within formal systems as well as within the informal rules and practices which make up women’s and men’s lives.”

She said part of the guiding principles of Pacific Women was to acknowledge the complexity of gender inequality and the need for a collective and multi-layered solution.

Brent adds that forming partnerships was also an integral part of the work to combat gender inequality. She said donors catalysed the movement by providing the resources and funding needed.

“But although this is an important role, outside agencies cannot impose change; long term and sustainable change will only be driven by indigenous agents, groups and coalitions,” she said.

Brent said Pacific Women aims to establish the capacity, resources and relationships needed for action to be underway in all key areas across the region.

“And by the end of year six of the program, we want to see joined up services and action, that are independent of, but informed by, Pacific Women, happening in all 14 countries,” she said.