The Australian government has donated $2.5 million to the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (Access) – a three-year programme to help people with disabilities and prevent violence against women.
Disability Action Council (DAC) secretary general Em Chan Makara, a representative of Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth, said at an Access consultation workshop on Monday that the programme is aimed at providing sustainable benefits and inclusive services to people with disabilities and women who have been victims of sexual harassment and violence.
“The $2.5 million will be spent on the Access project over three years, from 2019 to 2021,” he said, adding that the workshop will gather input from relevant stakeholders in Access, which will be launched in March.
The project is being undertaken with cooperation from the Ministries of Economy and Finance; Women’s Affairs; and Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Chan Makara said.
He said the goals of the National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023 will be implemented through the Access programme with additional funding from the government.
“I would like to confirm that Access focuses on assisting the government’s National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023 as well as implementing a convention on disability rights and laws related to persons with disabilities.
“Access will help the programme’s partners devise specific plans . . . and will lobby the Ministry of Economy and Finance to allocate additional budget for the disability sector."
“Through Access, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade intends to provide new opportunities for people with disabilities following the successful implementation of the Cambodian government’s National Disability Strategic Plan 2014-2018,” Chan Makara said.
He said the government has made a commitment that two per cent of employees at government ministries and institutions should be people with disabilities.
There are currently 4,471 civil servants with disabilities working at four government institutions, while 3,475 people with disabilities are employed in 77 private sector units, Chan Makara said.
According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2014 report released by the Ministries of Planning and Health, people with disabilities make up some 9.5 per cent of the Kingdom’s population.
Makara also called for people with disabilities and the rest of the general public to cooperate in the nationwide census to be carried out in March, as it will provide accurate data on the current status of the national population, including people with disabilities.
Access programme director Anne Rouve-Khiev said it is currently discussing and reviewing the programme to identify how it can be most effective.
“It is a bilateral programme, funded by the Australian foundation in partnership with the Cambodian government to implement a strategy for people with disabilities and prevent violence against women,” she said.
Australian ambassador to Cambodia Angela Corcoran said in an email on Monday that the Australian government is proud to have been supporting Cambodians with disabilities for more than a decade.
This has included supporting the delivery of community-based rehabilitation services to 10,489 people with disabilities between 2013 and last year.
“Australia has also been a strong supporter of gender equality and women in leadership in Cambodia."
“We are committed to working with all stakeholders to continue this support to ensure sustainable, equitable and inclusive services for women and for persons with disabilities in Cambodia,” Corcoran said.