The Government of Papua New Guinea under the leadership of the Department for Community Development hosted the second Forum Disability Ministers Meeting in Port Moresby at the Grand Papua Hotel. The meeting took place between 3rd and 4th October 2012.
With the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat based in Fiji and full financial and resource support from the Government of Australia the meeting was made possible.
Papua New Guinea represented by the Minister for Community Development, Honourable Loujaya Toni, MP, the Secretary of the Department of Community Development, Mr. Joseph Klapat, and Mrs Ipul Powaseu, Chairperson
PNGADP (DPO-PWD). Other senior government officials were also in attendance. Behind the scene was the professional support of the Department of Community Development staff.
Minister Toni was elected the Chair of the meeting, which she lead with distinction and superb leadership skill and qualities.
One of the important presentations in the meeting was the Word Report of Disability. The World Health Organisation (WHO) presented findings from the World Report on Disability and its implications for the Pacific region.
The Report was developed through consultation and research in over 70 countries, with persons with disabilities taking a central role. It identifies the high incidence of disabilities globally (15 percent, or 1 billion people), and highlights many common barriers faced by persons with disabilities.
The Report presents several recommendations for governments and communities, focussed on awareness, policies, consultation, funding, and research. The Forum Disability Ministers noted that the World Report on Disability is based upon the best available evidence and fills gaps in national and regional knowledge, and that Pacific Island Countries should agree to build understanding of the report and use it to guide Pacific efforts to advance disability rights.
The Forum Disability Ministers supported WHO and relevant partners to undertake country and sectoral level workshops in priority areas and utilise the World Report on Disability findings as a guide.
WHO urged national and regional stakeholders to work together to increase the disability data, research, and knowledge and use this to better inform decision making.
On the second day of the meeting a Ministers Retreat was convened. A key issue raised by Minsters was the need for increased data collection, against relevant rights-related indicators, and the need to harmonise various agency databases.
Ministers also expressed a need for increasing assistance from SPC/RRRT for Universal Periodic Reporting, noting the links between broader human rights Conventions and the CRPD. They identified a need to increase support for DPOs, recognising that although some countries already have good levels of engagement, others are lagging. At the same time, Ministers acknowledged the value of community and family-based support and care.
Ministers further identified the value of exchanging programme staff, to tap into regional agency expertise, and of facilitating exchanges among persons with disabilities, through “Para Pacific Games” type sporting exchanges and broader cultural exchanges. In addition, Ministers noted that ICT capacity building would be important for increasing connectivity, skills, and access to services among persons with disabilities, and requested assistance from Australia in incorporating ICT development into disability inclusive plans. Assistance is also required to address the linkages between disability and climate change, particularly with respect to assisting DPOs in disseminating information on disaster risk management, including evacuation of persons with disabilities.
Ministers highlighted the need for a mechanism for regional cooperation to be developed in the area of disability inclusive development, to facilitate multi-lateral and bilateral relationships between countries with possible assistance from donors and development partners.
The WHO also presented a paper informing Ministers of the upcoming United Nations High Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMD) —themed “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”—to be held in September 2013, and the opportunities that this meeting affords to advance disability issues globally.
In the presentation, updates to the HLMD arising from the recent 5th Conference of State Parties were also highlighted, including concerns that there has been slow progress in preparing for the HLMD, and will be limited time for country consultations that could feed into the outcomes. Accordingly, there is an opportunity for Pacific Island countries to lead the drive for action.
WHO suggested that Ministers could request urgent action to articulate a clear process for the HLMD, specifying features important to the Pacific; articulate the type of Outcomes Document Pacific Leaders would find useful; provide specific and practical views on priority areas for action in the Outcomes Document; reinforce the importance of the World Report on Disability as the key resource informing the HLMD process; and encourage take-up of offers of support and technical resources to assist with the process.
The WHO noted that the Outcomes Document for the HLMD would need to be finalised by June-July 2013, and that the consultation process would be decided on by December 2012. Accordingly, it was suggested that the Outcomes Document from this FDMM be used as a basis for an urgent brief to be communicated to the HLMD co-facilitators.
The Forum Disability Ministers noted the important opportunity afforded by the HLMD to scale up global efforts on priority issues towards the inclusion and participation of persons with disability. They agreed to the need for and importance of the Pacific actively participating in regional and plenary HLMD events including negotiations of the text for the outcomes document.
The Ministers tasked the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to coordinate, in collaboration with other regional and international agencies, the development of a regional position paper on disability issues, including emphasis on the link between NCDs and disability, to guide the Pacific contribution to the HLMD process.
Papua New Guinea will review its National Disability Policy, ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and implement its Disability Inclusive Development Initiative 2012 Work Plan.
The Department of Community Development through the Disability and Elderly Division is well placed to move forward with the agenda noted above. Papua New Guinea has demonstrated its leadership in this area and we note it is charting new paths ahead.