FRANCIS S NII
An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Essay & Journalism Award
“Not many disabled persons in PNG know their rights under the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and therefore they cannot advocate for full realisation of their rights. When you know your rights then you can advocate appropriately to the relevant authorities for the full realisation of your rights”.
These words were delivered at a one-week AusAID-funded training program in late January run by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons. The training facilitator was Ross Tito of the Port Moresby based National Assembly of Disabled Persons and the venue was the Kundiawa Catholic Parish resource centre at Gon Hill.
The objectives of the workshop was to assist participants to establish their own Provincial Disabled People’s Organisation, an umbrella body to carry out programs and activities for disabled people.
Palma Gogla, principal advisor to the provincial division of community development and Wapia Kuglame, chairman of community development in the Simbu Provincial Executive Council and Kundiawa Lord Mayor, officially opened the workshop.
In his opening speech, Mr Kuglame announced that the Simbu Provincial Government, under the leadership of Noah Kool, had allocated K500, 000 for programs and activities of the disabled people of Simbu.
This is the first time since independence that the provincial government has allocated such an amount of money for disabled people.
Stakeholders who made presentations were the Simbu Council of Women and Callan Services for the Disabled.
The training was timely as the PNG government had ratified the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in New York just last September.
The general principles of the Convention include: respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy and independence of persons with a disability; non-discrimination; full and effective participation and inclusion in society; respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity; equality of opportunity; accessibility; equality between men and women; and respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the rights of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
One of the outcomes of the training was the establishment of a Simbu provincial disabled people’s organisation. A new executive was elected and Rose Peter, an amputee and a gold medalist in the 2010 PNG Games, was elected chairwoman. Other members of the executive are Kua Paglau (secretary), Michael Bomai (treasurer) and Taia Twofinger (vice-president), all amputees.
The other outcome was for the new organisation to push for the development of a provincial disability policy which everyone acknowledged was important for the benefit and sustainability of self-help programs and activities.