Change In Policies For The Disadvantaged
Explicit policies need to be drafted in order to accommodate people living with disabilities into the civil service, says Permanent Secretary for Civil Service, Bernadette Welsh. Ms Welsh raised her concerns during the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence meeting on the submissions on ratification without reservations of the United Nation Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Parliament yesterday.
Ms Welsh said the ratification of the convention would give Fiji and the civil services assigned work which would bring to life the rights of people living with disabilities including adaptation to enable their full participation.
“I think the civil service in Fiji needs to lead by example and there are few things that we can do which will demonstrates our actions to the rest of the community that it is possible to put in place different policies that can enable disable people to better participate in the work force,” she said.
Ms Welsh said Fiji had still a long way to go compared to Australia.
“I have noticed in Fiji in comparison to Australia is that we have a lot to do and I don’t want to underplay that , we have a lot to do in terms of accessibility , size of entry ways and buildings , disabled bathrooms , transport and a whole number of other things. “But the thing is we have to start from somewhere and if we don’t ratify the Convention than how we are going to be able to start explicitly doing the things we need to do to enable those rights that are entrenched in the constitution to be given to people with disabilities,” she said. Ms Welsh said it was important that policies within the civil service were formulated in such way to provide a working environment suitable for people living with disabilities and that they were treated with equality. “The way we treat our disable people in the work place and civil service says a lot about us as a nation so I think it was very important that Fiji does ratify the convention and starts along the road to start making Fiji be able to support disabled people to fully participate in all aspects of society,” she said. Committee member, Opposition Member, Roko Tupou Draunidalo said the ratification of the Convention should be implemented and not done to make us look good. Meanwhile Permanent Secretary for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Josefa Koroivueta who also made submissions said they were working towards compiling information that would help them identify people living with disabilities in various parts of Fiji.
Front from left: Principal Youth Officer eastern George Francis, Ministry of Youth and Sports Permanent Secretary Allison Burchell, acting principal youth officer for Research, Policy, Planning and Information Unit Philip Hereniko during the Foreign Affairs and Defence Standing Committee meeting yesterday.