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ASEAN High Level Forum: Handling of Disabilities is Carried Out Comprehensively

MAKASSAR, Indonesia

Protection and fulfillment of the rights of persons with disabilities in ASEAN is carried out comprehensively including aspects of education, health, provision of employment opportunities, and social protection. This comprehensive treatment is needed so that persons with disabilities can be independent and at the same time increase their dignity.

This is one of the main issues that emerged in the ASEAN High-Level Forum on Disability Inclusive Development and Partnership beyond 2025. This international event, which took place in Makassar, 10-12 October 2023, was attended by 13 representatives of countries from ASEAN, observers, and representatives of other countries.

The participants in this forum consist of Ministers and ASEAN Senior Officials who are responsible for social welfare and development in related sectoral bodies, ASEAN affiliated entities and partners. AHLF 2023 is one of a series of ASEAN Summits under the chairmanship of Indonesia.

A number of speakers appeared on the first day of AHLF who focused on identifying challenges in ASEAN to strengthen disability inclusive development. Various issues and lessons learned from the impact of the pandemic on the lives of persons with disabilities are also discussed.

In her opening remarks, Minister of Social Affairs Tri Rismaharini said that disability is not only an issue in ASEAN, but also a global issue because the number of persons with disabilities is quite large. In ASEAN, there are around 62 million persons with disabilities. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, they are around 22.9 million. For this reason, AHLF invited participants from the United States, England and Australia to see how ASEAN countries have tried to handle disabilities well while discussing and exchanging experiences.

"We hope that through this AHLF, the handling of disabilities in ASEAN can be even better in the future," said Social Affairs Minister in front of the media after the opening session in Makassar, Tuesday (10/10).

Present at the meeting, Chairman of Commission VIII of the House of Representatives, Ashabul Kahfi said that his party really appreciated the steps taken by Ministry of Social Affairs in organizing AHLF. In Law Number 8 of 2016 on Persons with Disabilities, the government is encouraged to collaborate with many parties to provide better services for persons with disabilities.

This service is very important so that persons with disabilities can be independent and at the same time to raise the value and dignity of persons with disabilities. "Ministry of Social Affairs, so far, has paid close attention to the rights of persons with disabilities. "Of the budget of around IDR 80 trillion, part of it is used to empower persons with disabilities," she said.

Fulfilling disability rights is an effort to realize Indonesia's human development design where no one is left behind, including those with disabilities. This statement was conveyed by the Deputy for Coordination of Social Welfare Improvement, Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture, Prof. Nunung Nuryartono.

According to him, Ministry of Social Affairs has designed many programs so that persons with disabilities can get out of extreme poverty. “The President has declared that there will be no more extreme poverty in 2024. "That is our common target," said Nunung.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Persons with Disabilities, Norman Yulian, on the same occasion, appreciated the seriousness of the government, especially Ministry of Social Affairs, in realizing an inclusive and disability-friendly Indonesia.

The government has also tried in various ways to create an inclusive Indonesia, including for persons with disabilities, both in the education and employment sectors. "We hope that through AHLF we can design a master plan for handling disabilities for the ASEAN region," said Norman.

Regarding the event in Makassar, Minister of Social Affairs said that the presence of participants from various countries was also used to promote Indonesia's unique and very diverse tourism.

Tourism destinations in South Sulawesi are very unique because they are related to human civilization. "This tourism potential is very rare and extraordinary so it should be promoted throughout the world," said Minister Risma.

It is not easy to optimize tourism destinations for persons with disabilities because the government must prepare the infrastructure. However, this can be done by Indonesia. The tourism destinations that the AHLF delegation will visit are very friendly to persons with disabilities.

“From design to construction, everything is done by persons with disabilities so that it suits their needs. "This step is also to show that they are actually capable if given the opportunity," she said.

SOURCE: Ministry of Social