Establishing Disability Services in Bougainville
In 2016 HWC was asked by the Hon Louta Atoi (formerMP for North Bougainville, PNG Parliament) to work on developing services for people with disabilities in Bougainville, in partnership with the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) affiliated with the Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Australia.
On Thursday 9 March 2017, the first stakeholder engagement meeting was held in Buka, chaired by Medley Koito, Director Social Equity Services, Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and bringing together stakeholders from government, civil society, not-for-profit, and health to discuss the range of issues facing peoples with disabilities in Bougainville. The official address was given by Hon. Josephine Getsi, Minister for the Department of Community Development. The meeting established a technical working group (TWG) with draft terms of reference.
Disability in Bougainville
Rehabilitation plans address 5 categories of disability identified by WHO: physical, sensory, intellectual, social / trauma and age related disability. Being a post-conflict society, many people experience several of these areas of disability.
WHO prescribes 5 "pillars" to address problems for people with disability: education, social, employment, health and empowerment. The last of these is especially important in Bougainville in the lead-up to the referendum in 2019.
The number of people with disabilities in Bougainville is unknown, but is likely to be at least 10% of the population. Many people are suffering from war related disabilities; others have intellectual disabilities arising from cerebral malaria and cerebral meningitis.
Through conducting its parenting initiatives, HWC members have witnessed cases of disability in villages where families were desperately in need of help, yet there was no or limited access to medical, educational or psychosocial assessment and treatment strategies. Nor do specifically designed parent and carer training programs or support services exist to support individuals with disabilities, or their families and carers.
PNG is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). As such, PNG has an obligation to abide by the General Principles as set out in Article 3 of the CRPD:
a) respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
c) full and effective participation and inclusion in society
d) respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
e) equality of opportunity
g) equality between men and women
h) respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
Aims of the project
The overall aim is to address the significant disability needs of children and adults living in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, PNG, including the Atolls. Contemporary understanding is that disability support requires a multi-element approach drawing on a thorough understanding of the whole person, the context of their life and their support needs.
Technical Working Group
Using the funds provided by Hon. Louta Atoi, HWC has been paying the expenses of TWG. This is nearly expired, and HWC is applying for UN funding to engage CDS to design the Community Rehabilitation Services for Bougainville.
Key organisations in the DCR4B (Disability Community Rehabilitation for Bougainville) Coalition
The initial stage of the project is planned as follows: