NEWS

Thank Govt, Not Criticise

Government’s effort towards improving services for persons with disabilities should not be criticised, but acknowledged, says Australian law academic, Professor Ronald McCallum. Professor McCallum, who is blind, stressed to Persons
14 Oct 2016 11:00
Thank Govt, Not Criticise
Seated Professor Mary Cook, prof Ronald McCallum, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, UN Human Rights rep Chitralekha Massey and PDF CEO Setareki Macanawai with reps at the United Nations Regional Training on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Novotel, Nadi yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

Government’s effort towards improving services for persons with disabilities should not be criticised, but acknowledged, says Australian law academic, Professor Ronald McCallum.

Professor McCallum, who is blind, stressed to Persons with Disabilities Committees to congratulate Government’s efforts on what they had done for them so far, and make suggestions on how these services could be improved.

Professor McCallum is the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship in any subject at any university in Australia or New Zealand, as well as the first to become a Dean of Law in these countries.

He made the comment at the Regional Training Workshop on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at Novotel Hotel, Nadi, yesterday.

Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum endorsed the statement by Professor McCallum, saying that Government is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are not left out from the mainstream society.

He said one example was translating the 2013 Fijian Constitution into the Braille language.

“We (Government) saw it as a very critical decision essentially to ensure that all Fijians, as many Fijians as possible had access to the Supreme Law to the law.

“To actually help empower them that they know what are the rules that govern them on the day to day basis.”

He highlighted what the Law said about persons with disabilities.

“We had the Supreme Law of Fiji actually having specific rights under Section 42 of the Constitution, talking about the rights of persons with disabilities and that of course involves the ability to have administrative reforms of having different languages whether its sign language or Braille language available,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He stressed the importance of practical outcomes of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Attorney-General said they should ensure that they simply don’t get driven by the process.

“We are not simply there to ratify the convention or file a report. The idea is the practical outcome of the ratification of the Convention,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “The Convention or ratification is not by using a big stick beating people or countries down.

“The idea is to recognise what they are doing, encourage those countries to see how better they are doing.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added that there were instances of discrimination faced by persons with disabilities, in terms of work and wages as well.

“There are many other subtle ways in society to be able to attract these people, empower them and give them a source of revenue and income, so they become contributing members of the society,” he said.

 

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback: arishma.narayan@fijisun.com.fj



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