The Way Forward, a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond. High Level Meeting on the Realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities

High Level Meeting on the Realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities

Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)

23 September 2013

Chair, on behalf of the Government of Australia, I join withprevious speakers in condemning the brutal attacks in Nairobi. A tragicreminder that terrorism remains a global threat. One Australian is among thosekilled and I extend my sympathies to the nations who have lost citizens andfamilies who have lost loved ones.

As we approach 2015, it is right that we celebrate theenormous progress that has been made in poverty eradication globally since2000.

But there is much more to do to achieve the ultimate goal,encapsulated in just 3 words – 'leave no-one behind'.We must ensure development is benefiting those most in needand most vulnerable.

And our discussions today remind us that we cannot afford tolet people with disabilities remain invisible in our international developmentagenda.

Some one billion people across the world are living with adisability.

People with disability have higher rates of poverty, lowerrates of participation in the workforce, and less access to education andhealth services than people without disability.

Even in prosperous countries, including Australia, peoplewith disability face many of these challenges.

Australians with a disability do not want to be, nor shouldthey be, objects of care.

They want to be supported, yet as independent as possible,and in control of their lives, with choices and opportunities.

They want the chance to get a good education and tocontribute to the workforce.

The Australian national Parliament has recently passed aNational Disability Insurance Scheme.

This will ensure that people with significant and permanentdisability can receive support based on their needs, and have choice in, andcontrol over that support.

Through our aid programs, Australia has an important role inimproving the lives of people with disability in other countries.

We have all witnessed the challenges faced by people withdisability in developing countries where disability can increase the risk ofpoverty and poverty can increase the risk of disability.

A couple of years ago, at the launch of the World Report on Disability in Australia,I met a young man from Indonesia with a condition which limited his musculardevelopment – Antoni Tsaputra.

He spoke of the deep scepticism from those who insisted his conditionwould prevent him from getting an education.

But his father was determined to ensure that his son didreceive an education.

Antoni finished primary and secondary school successfully andthen applied for an Australian scholarship to attend an Australian university.

Recognising Antoni's leadership potential, particularly inthe field of disability, Australia supported him to complete a master's degreein journalism, and assisted his father to join him as his carer.

On completion of his degree, Antoni received an Award forAcademic Excellence as a tribute to his academic achievement.

Antoni has since returned to Indonesia to work for the localgovernment of Padang City.

He is designing programs to empower people with disabilityand advising on appropriate employment opportunities based on the skills of peoplewith disability.

When Antoni spoke at the launch of the World Report on Disability about his dream of living in a moreinclusive and barrier-free society, he didn't want his story to be seen asremarkable, but instead a journey to which all children with disability couldaspire.

Australia works with partner countries in the Asia-Pacificregion to promote disability-inclusive education, remove physical barriers, andto provide services to people with disability.

And we are supporting people with disability, throughdisabled people's organisations, to advcocate for changes to governmentpolicies.

We are working to tackle the stigma that still surroundsdisability, which can be one of the largest barriers to full participation incommunity and economic life.

Australia encourages all countries to give increasedattention to including people with disability in development, through theirnational development plans and through aid programs and partnerships.

It is not right – and it makes no economic sense – that aperson's disability should determine whether they can go to school, or get ajob or participate in community life.

The post-2015 development agenda must take account of people withdisability, toensure that we leaveno-one behind.

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