DPA is an important and influential voice in Vanuatu, with its 2013-2017 vision calling for an all-inclusive society in all areas of life. Examples include DPA wanting to advocate with property developers of hotels and offices to best cater for the needs of people with disabilities in their new developments. DPA is advocating for ramps and wheel-chair accessible toilets at all public buildings.
Our advocacy has led to greater employment of people with disabilities although this has been slow. It’s heartening to see private companies and national government employing people with disabilities, but there is room for improvement for more jobs. For example, when phone company Digicel opened its office in Vanuatu they promised to employ two people with disabilities and then undertook to make building alterations to accommodate the wheelchair of one of the employees. They also gave free phones and free phone lines to staff of DPA and Vanuatu Society for Disabled Persons. This is an example of the success of DPA advocating for people with disabilities and we hope there will be more cases like this. DPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SANMA DVET (Technical and Vocational Educational Training) to empower people with disabilities to improve their business and employment opportunities, as well as providing training on numeracy and literacy.
In line with our fundamental principle of people with disabilities having equal rights in political life, DPA has advocated for special facilities to vote at all government elections. At an information awareness session for voting at Luganville Municipal Council elections, DPA raised this subject, arguing disabilities should not stop people from voting. Luganville is the second largest urban centre of Vanuatu after the capital Port Vila, and has a population of 13,156.
To maximize its promotion and advocacy, DPA has now added its voice to social media, having launched a Facebook page. Despite only a small percentage of our population regularly accessing the internet, it’s important to promote our vital work through different forms of media.