Establishing Disability Services in Bougainville
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
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 could not access medical, educational or psychosocial assessment and treatment strategies. Nor are there specifically designed training programs or support services to support individuals with disabilities, or their families and carers.
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.
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.