Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Improving the lives of people with disability in the Pacific

The Australian Government will help improve the lives of people with a disability in the Pacific through greater access to education, early intervention and further research into non communicable diseases.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas said that the Government is pleased to support the Pacific as it takes steps to becoming more inclusive of the regions’ people with disabilities.

Senator McLucas told the Forum Disability Ministers Meeting in Papua New Guinea today that the Australian Government will contribute $4 million to enhance the lives of people with disability in Samoa, through supporting ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In Papua New Guinea 940 classrooms will be made accessible for girls and boys with a disability, in accordance with international best practice, through the school infrastructure program.

At the regional level, Australia will support the World Health Organisation with up to $250,000 to undertake research into non communicable diseases and disability that will help add to the evidence base on disability-inclusive development. Australia is also committing up to $2 million over 4 years to use sport as a vehicle to improve the quality of life for people with disability in the Pacific.

Australia has provided support for disability-inclusive development initiatives throughout the Pacific to enable those with a disability to be able to attend school, giving them access to education and improving their lives.

“Our support to date for inclusive education in Samoa has meant that over 330 children with disability now have access to education in Samoa including 129 children with disabilities who have received early intervention support,” Senator McLucas said.

In the Solomon Islands 400 people now have access to appropriate wheelchairs enabling them to participate in the activities they choose.

Senator McLucas said that our support to the Pacific Disability Forum has meant that around 100 people with disabilities have received training.

“We are particularly proud to be supporting the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat who organised this Forum Disability Ministers Meeting as well as the Pacific Disability Forum to ensure that people with disability have a strong united voice on issues which affect them,” Senator McLucas said.

As part of the Australian delegation, the Chair of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, Mr Dean Barton-Smith, and the Australian Disability and Development Consortium representative, Jackie Lauff, will also be attending the meeting with Senator McLucas.

Delivering the opening address at the Meeting, Senator McLucas noted that progress by Pacific Island Countries against the Pacific Regional Strategy on Disability had been encouraging.

“I note that there is increasing momentum and leadership being developed on disability-inclusive development across the region as more Pacific Island Countries work towards ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Senator McLucas said.

“The Australian Government is also working with Pacific communities to improve support services for people with disability.”

Senator McLucas told the forum that in Australia we are working with our own states and territories to build the foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme to ensure people with disability, their families and carers get the care and support they need to participate as much as possible in education, work and community life.