The Australian Government for the past decade has been a global leader in prioritising people with disabilities within their aid program. With the current strategy guiding this work coming to an end in 2020, the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC) is seeking for the Government to continue their leadership and commit to a new strategy.
Eighteen partner organisations of ADDC have signed an open letter to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, The Hon. Alex Hawke, calling for the Australian Government to continue to support people with disability to break the cycle of poverty and disability in developing countries. The letter was delivered to the Minister today in Canberra.
People with disabilities in developing countries often face higher levels of discrimination, exclusion and violence than the rest of the population, alongside lower levels of food security, inclusion in livelihood activities and access to health care and education. Disability can be a cause of poverty as well as a consequence of poverty. Not only do people with disabilities in developing countries experience a disproportionately higher level of poverty, being poor increases their chances of having a disability and reduces their access to vital services. This cycle of disability and poverty for people with disabilities, their families and communities can compound marginalization and be very hard to break.
For over a decade, the Australian Government has been at the forefront of advancing disability inclusion in international development policy and practice and driving international momentum to include people with disabilities as key agents of development. Australia’s Development for All strategies have been foundational to this global leadership. The introduction of the first Development for All 2009-2014 strategy in 2009 was ground-breaking and the first of its kind, followed by the subsequent release of the more ambitious Development for All 2015-2020.
Guided by the strategies, Australia’s development investments have been providing opportunities for people with disabilities in developing countries to shape their own futures. From supporting women with disabilities to achieve financial independence, to facilitating access to much-needed assistive devices, and strengthening educational opportunities, the Development for All strategies have made tangible differences in the lives of people with disabilities around the world. However there is still much work to be done.
The current Development for All strategy will expire at the end of 2020. The introduction of a third strategy is the next step for the Australian Government to continue as a global leader and meet its commitment to the rights of people with disabilities living in poverty.
A central tenet of Australia’s ground-breaking work has been ensuring people with disabilities and their representative bodies are at the heart of this vital work; from developing to implementing and evaluating the strategies. This core component needs to remain part of Australia’s work, starting with the process to develop the next strategy. To enable this, the development of the strategy needs to start now in partnership and with extensive collaboration with people with disabilities and their representative organisations.
ADDC with its partner organisations are calling on the Government to continue their global role in advancing disability rights through their aid program, and build on the gains achieved over the past decade.