A team of Australian volunteers is heading to Fiji on a Disability Empowerment Skills Exchange, as part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, an Australian government initiative. The four Disability Empowerment Officers and one Team Leader attended pre-departure training in Adelaide earlier this month and are set to depart this Sunday.
The Disability Empowerment Skills Exchange (DESE) pilot project is a ‘roaming team’ of Australian volunteers, aiming to assist the capacity development of multiple disabled people’s organisations in Fiji. It’s anticipated the benefits will be two-way, with participants from Australia growing both personally and professionally, while at the same time empowering and transferring skills to people with disabilities in Fiji. The exchange will also promote upskilling of local families, staff and peak professional bodies who work with, and for, people with disabilities.
Scope Global has been working to improve accessibility of AVID to people with disabilities and has identified the duration of traditional AVID assignments is often a barrier. In consultation with numerous service providers, disabled people’s organisations and people with disabilities in Australia, a flexible, short term AVID option has been developed. The DESE team will be in Fiji for four weeks and work with the Pacific Disability Forum, the umbrella body for disability focused organisations in the region.
Development efforts which include and benefit people with disabilities are integral to achieving Australia’s aid policy objectives of promoting prosperity, reducing poverty and enhancing stability in our region. UNESCAP estimate 17% of people in the Pacific have some form of disability, with particular implications for women and girls, who are typically the primary carers for family members with disabilities. The DESE project will provide an opportunity for women and girls with disability to be both participants and beneficiaries of a development program, helping them to develop skills that will assist them in reaching their full potential.