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Australia, Cambodia Strengthens Partnership to Benefit PWDs

PHNOM PENH: The Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services in the kingdom has been working hard to fast-track the programmes benefitting persons with disabilities. On Wednesday, officials from ACCESS, its partners and Secretary-General of the Disability Action Council, Em Chan Makara have met evaluating the improvements since the ACCESS program was established in 2018.

The Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services program is a five-year (2018-2023) initiative undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Australia provided through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

It is working in close partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s ministries and departments namely Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Economy and Finance and Disability Action Council.

The ACCESS programs aim to contribute to the key priorities of the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and the National Disability Strategic Plan.

Secretary-General of the Disability Action Council Em Chan Makara says many of the major achievements of the Disability Action Council under the ACCESS program, such as counseling Improved center management, better social protection and opportunities for sub-national authorities and civil society organizations to work on disability and gender and disability issues in commune investment plans and strengthen social accountability as well as assist victims of crime. He says violence is based on gender for the disability environment as well.

He has added that in addition to these assistances, under the ACCESS program, Cambodia has achieved the legal framework, policies and plans for people with disabilities and helped to allocate government resources to people with disabilities, as well as Cambodia has achieved a coordination mechanism in disability sector as well.

The Secretary-General of the Disability Action Council highlights that with the help of ACCESS, 25 target provinces, namely Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Siem Reap, Battambang and Tbong Khmum, have been assisted in five target provinces, creating a census of people with disabilities in 2019 and in conducting a national health census in 2021.

He says, with the help of Australia, the allocation of the government's budget for the protection of women increased by 48% between 2019 and 2021, and the disability budget for non-staff expenditures of the Ministry of Social Affairs almost increased 20% by 2021, as funding cuts to help victims of Covid 19 disease helping over 60,000 people with disabilities to receive financial support for poor and vulnerable families during the fight against the Covid-19.

Currently, under the auspices of ACCESS Australia, more than 4000 job opportunities have been created for people with disabilities.Over the last three years, Australia committed over $10 million through the ACCESS Program to improve the sustainability, quality and inclusiveness of services for persons with disabilities and for women affected by gender-based violence.

Recently, the Government of Australia has also committed an additional more than $7 million through the ACCESS Program for another two years to make it a five-year Program. ACCESS’ Program logic has been updated to reflect the contribution of the Program to the Cambodian Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, including its priorities on social protection.

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