Inclusive Education Officer Mayada uses her knowledge of local language and culture in her work with the UNRWA in Jordan, helping to raise awareness of disability inclusion in education. 

Five people sit around a table. One person is talking and gesturing, and the others are looking at him. People have documents and notepads in front of them, and hold pens. On woman is wearing a dark blue work shirt with logos that say “redr australia” and “Australia Assists”.

Disability Inclusion

Program Summary

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Deployment Months
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Host Organisations

The program met 21 of 26 Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DAP) targets in FY21 (81 per cent), the highest number to date – four more targets reached than in the previous two years. Six targeted disability inclusion specialists deployed to Fiji, Jordan, Iraq and Somalia, and RedR continued to build the capacity of roster members to be disability champions.

DAP priorities

1. Personnel and partners have capacity to practice effective disability inclusion across the humanitarian continuum.

2. Contribute learning to advance global policy and practice on disability inclusive humanitarian action.

3. Strengthen organisational systems, processes and staff capability to be more disability inclusive.

Tools, training and technical guidance

Australia Assists specialists deployed to the Middle East and Africa secured more sustainable and meaningful approaches to disability inclusion within their host organisations by institutionalising new practices and processes.  

  • At UNRWA Jordan, Mayada systemised referral pathways and established a psychosocial support group for parents of children with disabilities to provide guidance on at-home support.
  • At IOM Iraq, Tarryn built organisational capacity via regular disability inclusion messages to 250 staff, and developed a dedicated intranet page featuring guidance notes, checklists and relevant resources.
  • At OCHA Somalia, Melissa embedded disability inclusion into the national Humanitarian Response Plan to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches vulnerable populations.
  • The program also collectively raised the profile of people with disabilities in emergency preparedness through three deployments to the Pacific Disability Forum, which provided communications, humanitarian training and project coordination expertise.

Disability inclusion mainstreaming

The proportion of Australia Assists deployees who reported disability inclusion outcomes in their final deployment reporting has steadily increased in the past two years, from 39 per cent in FY19 to 58 per cent in FY20, and now 62 per cent in FY21. Highlights include:

  • A COVID-19 ICT in Education Specialist consulted with disability experts to redesign the physical layout of a learning space in Samoa, including entry ramps and fully accessible bathrooms.
  • A Disaster Recovery and Risk Reduction Specialist coordinated with the Laos Association for Autism to establish it as the receiving organisation of a UN75 fundraising campaign which generated more than US$2,000. The handover was conducted on the International Day for Persons with Disabilities (3 December), to help consolidate the partnership between the UNRCO and the local organisation.
  • A Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist in Fiji ensured that a component of the Washington Group Questions on Disability Statistics was included in IPPF Disaster Needs Assessments to improve data collection for people living with a disability.
  • Despite initial resistance, a MEAL Specialist in Jordan ensured that local and national organisations for people with disabilities will be prioritised during implementation of the Humanitarian Action Framework she developed. She advocated for specific targets for organisations for people with disabilities which remain in place, thanks to her counselling and insistence.  

DAP highlights

  • RedR and CBM delivered five online introductory disability inclusion training sessions to 141 participants (53 per cent female, 47 per cent male).
  • 14 deployees took part in a mentoring initiative with CBM, which helped them identify opportunities for disability inclusion in their deployments (see below).
  • RedR successfully advocated for disability inclusion indicators in a new five-year partnership with the UNOPS.
  • A RedR-CBM partnership health check revealed improved ratings for good disability inclusion practice for 22 of 27 indicators, against the 2017 baseline. RedR held an internal learning session to communicate the health check results and identify areas for priority action.
  • RedR published a case study entitled ‘One Year On: Reflecting on the Deployment of an Australia Assists Disability Inclusion Specialist to the World Food Programme’.

Remote mentoring – Australia Assists deployees and CBM

RedR offered 18 Australia Assists deployees an opportunity to be mentored by an Advisor from CBM. For the pilot program, RedR selected deployments from a wide geographic spread which focused on community engagement, information dissemination, communications or gender.

  • 14 deployees took part in the pilot, including six who participated in group sessions at the same host organisation.
  • Sessions involved a 45 to 60 minute call with a CBM Advisor to discuss disability inclusion entry points.
  • CBM followed up with an email outlining recommended resources.

Discussion topics included:

  • access to early warning systems and evacuation centres
  • establishing and sustaining organisational Disability Task Forces
  • creating individual education plans for students with learning difficulties
  • barriers to accessing gender-based violence and sexual reproductive health services
  • partner surveys to assess disability inclusion capacities.

Challenges and focus areas for FY22

  • Of the five DAP commitments that were not met in FY21, most relate to strengthening disability inclusion outcomes in new and existing partnerships. This was largely due to the impact of COVID-19 on RedR’s ability to secure new partnerships, which often require face-to-face engagement to bring to life. Discussions are underway regarding opportunities to establish new partnerships with organisations for people with disabilities in Asia and the Middle East.
  • A shortage of disability inclusion specialists remains an ongoing challenge, which was compounded by current travel barriers. In an effort to boost disability inclusion expertise on the roster, RedR initiated a new scholarship, offering two individuals who have a disability or disability inclusion expertise to undertake EHP and HEAT courses as a pathway to deployment.

Training in focus

RedR’s Training and Capability team has achieved the following disability inclusion milestones:

  • invited CBM to participate in Essentials of Humanitarian Practice (EHP) and Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) courses and provide recommendations
  • adopted the majority of CBM recommendations and updated monitoring documents accordingly. By May 2021, 39 recommendations had been adopted for EHP (compared to 16 in June 2020), and 42 had been fully adopted for HEAT (compared to 7 in June 2020)
  • added voice captioning to more than 18 training videos
  • invited two staff from PDF (a Disability Inclusion Advisor and a Preparedness Manager) to participate in the inaugural Pacific EHP course in Fiji
  • explored options to recruit Associate Trainers with the requisite experience to ensure disability inclusion can be integrated into regular organisational activities and develop a new course offering.

Program Snapshots

Download FY21 Deployment Data