International development organisation, CBM Australia has launched a new media and social campaign video, Build Back a Better World, for International Day of People with a Disability.
The video highlights COVID-19’s severe impact on people living with disabilities globally, and calls for urgent disability inclusion in Australia’s development and aid response.
It also amplifies the voices of people living with disabilities in the Asia Pacific region, and urges global pandemic recovery to be inclusive and considerate of this highly vulnerable demographic.
In the video, Almah (main photo), a lifelong disability inclusion advocate from Papua New Guinea, shares her experience of the pandemic.
“As a person with a disability and as a woman with a disability I was really afraid and frightened,” she said.
“The message around COVID-19 wasn’t clear. We did not have the right PPE to keep working and we could not be visited in our homes.”
The video coincides with the Leave No One Behind report, written by CBM Australia and the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC), which involved consultations with organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) across Asia, the Pacific and Africa during the recent pandemic.
It found global COVID-19 responses did not actively target those living with disabilities, nor did it involve them in recovery scenario decision making.
According to the report, if this trend continues then people living with disabilities will experience further socio-economic hardships.
“(Australia) was one of the first to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the first to introduce a strategy for disability-inclusive international development,” said CBM Australia CEO, Jane Edge.
“However, at a time when the need is greatest, investment in core disability funding has been reduced. We need to see an urgent increase in investment in disability-inclusive recovery in our region.”
Further research found OPDs, people with disabilities, and carers, globally and nationally, were not being consulted or given relevant information about COVID-19.
It also reported ongoing failures in COVID-19 prevention efforts and vaccine roll-outs to prioritise people living with disabilities and their high vulnerability.
Leave No One Behind also noted increased pandemic-related psychosocial distress, as well as 85 per cent of those surveyed in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines saying they lacked financial assistance during lockdowns.
“With 80 percent of people with disabilities around the world living in low and middle-income countries, the time for change is now,” said Edge.
“The report reveals the vital need to prioritise people with disabilities for early COVID-19 vaccinations, including addressing specific barriers they may have to accessing vaccines and services.”
CBM Australia is today urging widespread sharing of ‘Build Back A Better World’ to help reconstruct a world in which all members of society are included, valued, and equal.
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