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World Vision disability project a game-changer for PNG with disabilities

world vision staff talking with a person with disability

A game-changing disability inclusion project with the potential to vastly improve the lives of up to 120,000 people in Papua New Guinea living with a disability, will launch in Port Moresby this week.

The Real Inclusion in Disability Engagement (RIDE) project, a partnership between World Vision Australia, the Australian Government, the Government of PNG, and World Vision PNG, aims to not only improve the well-being, and boost the empowerment of people living with disabilities, but also strengthen the capacity of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to champion their rights.

The project will be launched tomorrow (December 3) in Port Moresby on International Day of People with Disabilities, by His Excellency, Australian High Commissioner, Jon Philp, together with PNG’s National Department of Community Development and Religion.

The project has the potential to be a game-changer in a country where an estimated 120,000 (15 per cent) live with some form of a disability.

As PNG navigates a third wave of COVID-19 – which now includes the Delta strain – community transmission remains high. As the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) together with partners move to support the response, the extent to which people with disabilities in PNG are being impacted by the pandemic is largely unknown, due to considerable gaps in data.

“A lack of knowledge on the nature and extent of these impacts limits our ability to respond in ways that appropriately address the specific needs of people with disabilities and ensure that no one is left or even pushed farther behind,” says Graham Strong, chief of Field Impact with World Vision Australia.

To address the critical needs of people with disabilities, including as part of the COVID-19 response, World Vision Australia and World Vision PNG will work closely with umbrella organisation, the PNG Assembly of Disabled Persons (PNGADP) and the province-based Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs).

Understanding the immediate and underlying needs of people with disabilities, particularly women and girls, during COVID and more broadly across PNG, is critical. Plus, the capacity of OPDs and service providers, to act as advocates and representatives for the interests of people with disabilities, requires strengthening and embedding with the PNG Government’s priorities.

Given the significant gaps in data and literature on people with disabilities in PNG, this will also include an analysis to identify the rights the rights and needs of persons with disability; the individual, social and institutional barriers to these; and the proposed solutions and recommendations. Such information is severely lacking in PNG and is critical to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities. This can only be addressed with a keen and detailed understanding of the unique disability specific barriers that they face.

Another interesting and innovative feature of the project design is the involvement of established First Nations organisations who will work with PNGADP and OPDs in a capacity-building and mentoring approach. This supportive peer-to-peer approach will contribute to Australian Government’s goal under the Indigenous People’s strategy 2015-2019 to support Indigenous Australians to engage in, and develop people-to-people links with the international community through the development program.

The two-year project is supported by the Australian Government through the PNG-Australia Partnership, and is the first standalone disability inclusion project of its kind for World Vision Australia and World Vision PNG.