The Bougainville Disability Policy was endorsed by the Bougainville Executive Council and launched by Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Minister for Community Development, Thompson J. Gitovea.
The launch coincided with this year’s International Day of People with Disability celebrations.
Bougainvilleans with disability have welcomed the new policy and are confident this policy will create more awareness and promote better community participation.
Ruth Tohaka from the Carteret Islands, Atolls District, said the endorsement of the policy was an important milestone.
“Persons with disabilities can communicate with ABG and other development partners who do disability work in the region,” she said.
“We will be recognised as people with special needs and our needs will be addressed.”
Tohaka’s sentiments were reiterated by Lawrence Tomel from Nissan Island, who shared his gratitude for the work done to put the policy together.
“This policy will give us the opportunity for our voices to be heard, to be recognised and enable us to participate fully,” he said.
Joachim Bonney, also from Nissan, said it was time that persons with disabilities had their priorities addressed.
“I am so happy,” he stated, “we will be treated equally, and we will have many opportunities to be part of activities that will benefit us as individuals to sustain our lives.”
The policy was drafted by ABG’s Department of Community Development in partnership with the Bougainville Disabled Persons Organisation following a rigorous consultation process.
The consultations and technical development of the policy were supported by the Australian and New Zealand governments through the Bougainville Partnership.
(ABG Minister for Community Development, Thompson J. Gitovea [second from left] launching the Bougainville Disability Policy in the presence of representatives from the Australian High Commission and Bougainville Disable Persons Organisation)