Volunteers advance opportunities for people with disabilities

16 February 2017

Twenty Australians volunteering with the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program have been awarded AVID Disability Initiative Grants to implement activities that promote collaboration, capacity development and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

Grant applications were received from volunteers in 11 countries across the Asia Pacific, and all supported a twin-track approach to inclusive development, ensuring people with disability are involved both as beneficiaries and agents of development. The Australian Government is an international leader in inclusive education and the Disability Initiative Grant is just one of the ways that Australian aid is assisting people with disability in our region.

Scope Global facilitated the AVID Disability Initiative Grants as a delivery partner of the AVID program.

Grant to construct ramps and rails in Kiribati

Andrew Antenucci, an Australian volunteer working with a local council in Kiribati, has seen firsthand the multiple challenges that people with disability face in their daily lives. Visiting the council office to collect payments or access services is very difficult for people with reduced mobility due to the steep steps at the council entrance. Even shopping for fruit and vegetables is a challenge because council market buildings are up several stairs, and large potholes are a persistent problem in the surrounding paths.

Andrew, who is volunteering with the Teinainano Urban Council to help strengthen human resources, governance and finance procedures, is working to address some of these challenges with the help of an AVID Disability Initiative Grant.

The $1,000 AUD grant will enable Andrew to purchase materials to construct ramps and rails at entrances and create safe access paths to the council’s office and two markets. The local community, including the national disabled persons organisation Te Toa Matoa, will be involved in the improvements, which Andrew hopes will help change attitudes towards people with disability.

This project provides a physical, tangible symbol of disability inclusion in Kiribati society,” says Andrew. “The introduction of disabled access at these three high profile locations will increase awareness among members of the broader community about inclusive practises. Importantly, this project will show that the council is taking a strong lead and initiative on disability inclusion.

A public awareness roadshow is also planned to launch the new facilities, further drawing attention to the need for disability access.

Grant to raise awareness about human rights of people with disability in Nepal

Ariane Forsythe is another Australian volunteer, supporting the Independent Living Centre for Persons with Disabilities (CIL) in Nepal to develop their public relations capacity. She will use her grant to create a suite of awareness-raising materials and a new website for the organisation, with design and production carried out by freelance professionals with disabilities.

The current situation for people with disability in Nepal is incredibly challenging,” Ariane says. “Everything from gaining access to education, to social stigma, to gaining financial support is a struggle.

Ariane’s project will help the organisation to promote the human rights of people with disabilities while breaking down attitudinal barriers around employment of people with disabilities.

All the AVID Disability Initiative Grant winners

Cambodia
Jillian Ferguson, Community Empowerment Officer, Handicap International – $1000

Fiji
Robyn Steinkamp, Sign Language Trainer, Gospel School of the Deaf – $1000

Indonesia
Dr Robert Guth, Fundraising Strategy Officer, Pusat YAKKUM Rehabilitasi – $1000
Sandra Gray, Therapist Mentor, Pusat Layanan Autis – $720
Anna Northey, Communications Advisor, Yayasan Kopernik – $970
Alicia Godycki, Community Based Disaster Management Officer, Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Daerah – $991

Kiribati
Andrew Antenucci, Organisational Development Officer, Teinainano Urban Council – $975

Mongolia
Joanna Twomey, Speech and Language Pathologist, Kindergarten and Nursing Complex 10 – $874
Jacinta Harford, Media and Communications Officer, The Authority for Family, Children and Youth Development – $1000
Natalie Bye, Organisational Development Officer, Mongolian Youth Federation – $1000

Nepal
Claire Mercer, Organisational Development Advisor, The Independent Living Centre for Persons with Disabilities – $994
Ariane Forsythe, Advocacy and Communications Officer, Independent Living Centre for Persons with Disabilities – $950
Zoe Keightley, Marketing and Communications Officer, Municipal Association of Nepal – $994
Caitlin Sparks, Research Officer, Rato Bangala Foundation – $995
Carolyn Halliday, Program Development Officer, YUWA – $992

Philippines
Robert Gomm, Marketing and Fundraising Officer, Philippines Accessible Deaf Services – $970

Samoa
Saulelia Tone, Marketing Advisor, Special Olympics Samoa – $1000

Timor-Leste
Jude Finch, Organisational Management Mentor, Alola Foundation – $1000

Vanuatu
Samantha Suendermann, Women’s Surfing Development Officer, Vanuatu Surfing Association – $995

Vietnam
Simon James, Climate Smart Agriculture Support Officer, Centre for Sustainable Rural Development – $970

Read more about the grants (PDF).