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CBM Australia working alongside people with disabilities in the poorest communities

It is a challenging fact that there are millions of people in our world who face greater disadvantages - including poverty, abuse, loneliness - and are at far greater risk of dying… simply because they have a disability.

COVID-19 gave all of us a small insight into the isolation often experienced by people with disabilities – for some, it lasts a lifetime.

There is a real opportunity to ensure that our collective response to this health, social and economic crisis has inclusion and social justice at its centre.

There are one billion people around the world living with a disability. Around 80% live in developing countries; often facing stigma, discrimination and violence; routinely facing barriers to safe living environments, healthcare, education, work, and community life. Exclusion from the political process is common and there is little chance for people with disabilities to impact and influence wider policy, let alone decisions that affect them directly.

People with disabilities in developing countries face a double bind of being at greater risk of living in poverty, and those in poverty run a greater risk of acquiring or developing (further) disability.

Fifteen years ago CBM Australia asked: “What if everyone else who works in international development could also tackle the physical, attitudinal, communication and institutional barriers that stand in the way of an inclusive world – imagine what we could accomplish together?”

Leading change through shared knowledge

CBM Australia, a member of a global Christian international development organisation, has been working alongside people with disabilities in the poorest communities in the Pacific, Asia and Africa for 40 years.

Through local partnerships, CBM Australia directly supports programs that target people with disabilities and those at risk of disability. 

And, through their Inclusion Advisory Group, they advise and educate other international development organisations and institutions on how to better include people with disabilities in their programs, and in their funding distribution.

CBM Australia also partners with disabled people’s organisations both within Australia and overseas, to advocate for all development and humanitarian action to be disability-inclusive.

Since disability was formally recognised as a human rights and development issue in the 2008 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CBM Australia has established itself as a source of evidence and advice on disability inclusion.

The Inclusion Advisory Group has provided advice to the Australian Government, and agencies including the World Bank, UN Development Programme, World Vision, UNICEF, Oxfam, RedR and Fred Hollows Foundation.

Evidence as the foundation for change

CBM’s field programs have compiled evidence to show that including people with disabilities in the development of solutions is beneficial to both the people with disabilities themselves and their communities and is the pathway to long term sustainable solutions.

Drawing on the evidence of what works is shared with many organisations and programs in every area – education, health, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction; the aim is to connect people with disabilities with all the available supports and opportunities.

The impact of COVID-19 made it even more important, people with disabilities were hardest hit by the pandemic. Increased isolation, inadequate access to medical care and poverty (exacerbated by financial crisis) continues to leave many in perilous circumstances.

CBM Australia’s Inclusion Advisory Group Fast Facts:

  • Direct input to partner programs valued at AUD$119.5 million in 2019
  • Working to influence the Australian International Aid Program (administered by DFAT) of AUD$4.4 billion (FY19)
  • Positively impacted the lives of more than 710,000 people with disabilities, their families and community members in 2019

This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.