Persons with disabilities are part of our communities. They are our families and friends, and more importantly they need our support and us.
These were the official remarks made by the Assistant Minister of the Office of the Prime Minister, Honourable Sakiusa Tubuna at the 7th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability at the Tanoa Hotels in Nadi yesterday.
The 7th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability focusses on the theme: “Nothing Without Us: Deepening partnership for an inclusive and equitable Blue Pacific Continent for persons with disabilities” which is co-hosted by the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), in partnership with SPC.
The aim of the conference is to build partnerships between, national government disability focal points, Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and partners to support disability inclusive development in the Pacific.
“Let us address the barriers that hinder the participation of persons with disabilities by advocating and championing disability friendly policis. Our institutional collaboration is key to driving change and realising progress – Our development effort and the associated support must be clear and coherent,” Assistant Minister Tubuna reiterated.
“The Pacific is a hub of integrated cultures. May the values that we share and community spirit that brings us here today, remain strong and resilient in the face of adversity. Let us work together to ensure that their voices are heard and their future is secure to making no one left behind”.
Assistant Minister Tubuna also reaffirmed the Coalition Government’s priorities in the revamping of it’s welfare programmes for aged and disabled individuals stating that the Fijian Government is a strong advocate for inclusive development and tolerance of all persons. Equality before the law is a given right that is upheld by the People’s Coalition government.
“Fiji, as well as many of the countries you represent here, have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). However, ratification is not the final step.
We must harmonise our international commitments with our domestic national policies and legislations to make things work for people with disabilities. It is very important for states or government to take hint of the recommendations from the CRPD reports and I suggest that all stakeholders including CSO, private sector and the mechanism within the government system to strategically prioritize and attend to the recommendations”, Assistant Minister Tubuna added.
Fiji has enshrined these rights in its Constitution including protection against any unfair discrimination ensuring that people with disabilities have reasonable access to all public services. This is further acknowledged and expanded upon in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.
Also speaking at the regional conference were the Chief Executive of the Pacific Disability Forum – Mr. Setareki Macanawai, Deputy Secretary General – Dr. Filimon Manoni, Chargé D’Affaires to the Australian High Commission in Suva – His Excellency John Williams, United Nations Resident Coordinator – His Excellency Sanaka Samarasinha and the Director of Human Rights and Social Development Division at the Pacific Community (SPC)- Miles Young.