This FROM: Laura Carse
Laura is a VSO volunteer assisting the Creative Self Help Centre
Voluntary Service Overseas and Creative Self Help Centre staff and Service Users recently completed an eight month research study into the level of accessibility in public buildings and places for people with disabilities living in the Madang Province.
The findings of the research were officially published for the interest of the public and the National Government on September Monday 10th 2007 at the Creative Self Help Centre in Madang. Staff and service users developed a full day’s workshop to accompany the research. Over sixty people from service providers local business houses and government departments attended the presentation and the day was officially opened by Joseph Yomba the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Community Development. He emphasised to the participants that the disability movement within PNG has the full backing of the Department of Community Development and they are working together to push through the National draft policy for equal rights for people with disabilities.
The Madang Provincial Administrator Joseph Dopar and the Participation and Governance Programme Manager Barbara Toia were the guest speakers and gave the closing speeches. Both speeches were empowering for many of the participants and encouraged individuals to take an active role in the governing process.
The aim of the research was to Investigate:
• What level of access is currently available within public buildings?
• The main barriers to access
• Could access to public buildings be improved within Madang?
The findings of the research demonstrate how society and the environment around us can make a person “disabled” and not the actual impairment. Each researcher investigated institutional, environmental and attitude barriers that people with disabilities have to face on a day to day basis and found that the response from the local community was positive and demonstrated that people want to have a better understanding and knowledge of disability issues and how to best support people with disabilities.
This is the first time that this type of research focusing on accessibility was carried out within PNG and more importantly by people with disabilities. Initiatives such as this research need to be undertaken by people who have real experience of what it is like to have a disability. People with disabilities do not want to “be helped” they want to “be helped to help themselves.” Everyone who participated would like to see the information gathered utilised by the Provincial and National Government to improve access to services for people with disabilities. A working partnership has been formed with the Department of Community Development to achieve this aim and they will be submitting the report to the Asia Pacific Community Development conference in Bangkok. The research demonstrates the work that people in PNG have been undertaking to promote the action points on the BIWAKO Millennium Framework.
This initiative is part of a National Campaign to improve information, facilities and support for people with disabilities within Papua New Guinea.
Here is the greeting banner at the gate of the Creative Self Help Centre.
This is a photo of the workshop participants.
This photo shows Imeldas, one of the researchers, with Joseph Dopar and Joseph Yomba.
Joseph Yomba actively took part in the workshop.
This is Ezekiel, one of the researchers.
Thanks very much, Laura, for sending this along to us.