Motivation Australia and the PNG Assembly of Persons with Disabilities (PNG ADP) released the zero draft of the first “National Guidelines on the Provision of Assistive Technology in Papua New Guinea” on April 6th 2016.
Copies were distributed to the PNG Department of Health, Department of Education and Department of Community Development and Religion; as well as key stakeholders involved in the Guidelines development process including the National Orthotic and Prosthetics Service, Callan National Services Network and the Prevention of Blindness Committee.
Each Government department pledged to begin internal and inter-departmental discussions regarding the process of Government endorsement of these Guidelines. In the meantime, the zero draft was warmly received by Government and Non-Government service providers and Disabled Person’s Organisations as a tool they can begin using immediately to assist in advocating for, planning and implementing better access to Assistive Technology for PNG citizens.
The development of the WATP was funded by the Australian Government through the Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen project.
For more information about the Guidelines, contact Kylie Mines.
Read the Guidelines Executive Summary:
“In 2013 the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) acceded the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) . PNG’s accession demonstrates a growing commitment to promoting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of persons with disabilities in all aspects of PNG society on an equal basis with others. This commitment includes the recognition that access to appropriate assistive technologies (AT) is a human right.
Access to appropriate AT for girls, boys, women and men with disabilities is a fundamental step in removing participation barriers and “enables persons with disabilities to become productive members of society, thereby enhancing their quality of life, enabling them to enjoy their human rights and live in dignity” .
PNG stakeholders strongly state that effective provision of AT in PNG requires:
- Maximum involvement of the user at every stage of AT service delivery.
- Policy and guidelines that support and guide practice.
- Services that reach women, men, girls and boys who need them.
- Training for local people.
- Appropriate products.
Improving access to appropriate AT is not a new focus for PNG. PNG stakeholders have been working for many decades to ensure persons with disabilities are equipped with the AT and services that benefit them. However, stakeholders asked for and invested in the development of these Guidelines between 2013 and 2016 so that they would have a tool to support and guide best practice AT service delivery in PNG.
These Guidelines are therefore unique in that they have been written for and by persons with disabilities, disabled persons organisations, service providers, government, civil society and faith based organisations, development partners and the private sector to provide practical guidance and recommendations on how to strengthen: rights based governance, policy and leadership relevant to AT for persons with hearing, mobility and vision impairments; user involvement; equitable AT service systems and service reach; minimum AT training requirements for local personnel; and recommended AT for the PNG context. The content was guided by the technical knowledge and personal experience of PNG citizens as well as international AT guidelines, standards and products that were tested and adapted by PNG people for the PNG context.
It is recognised that strengthening AT services in PNG will take commitment, collaboration, time and investment of everyone in all areas of effective AT provision to ensure that AT is provided through a service system, with trained personnel, who can work with persons with disabilities to provide quality AT that suits their needs, lifestyles and environments.
PNG stakeholders are strongly against donations and handouts that are provided: without consultation with local partners and users; outside the service system; and without the presence of trained personnel. They state that ‘this is not the rights based way!’
Recognising that there are many different types of AT, it was a deliberate choice by stakeholders to focus these Guidelines on a short list of recommended AT required by and benefitting persons with mobility, hearing and vision impairments. It was agreed that these Guidelines needed to start small and evolve over time as knowledge, experience, skills and capacities of all stakeholders grows. It is the intention that these Guidelines will expand in the future to address AT priorities of all persons with disabilities.
These Guidelines are not prescriptive, and rather are designed to assist the practical implementation of existing national policies and plans across several sectors that have a specific focus on improving access to AT services including health, education, community development and the public sector. Implementing and monitoring the Guidelines also present PNG stakeholders with an opportunity to be international leaders; creating evidence about how the rights of persons with disabilities to accessing appropriate AT can be realised in a culturally rich and geographically diverse context like PNG.”