Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction: Brisbane 19–22 September 2022

Written by Andrew Fairbairn – PDA President/WA Director

A close friend, ally and PDA member, Clare, attended the 15th Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP) at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 14 to 16 June 2022. At the conclusion of this she was sent an invitation to attend the APMCDRR in Brisbane.

She was very excited about COSP and tried to explain to me what it was about. I didn’t really understand, so she said that we must go to Brisbane together and then I would get it.

Taking her on her word, we booked flights and accommodation and headed off.

Well, what I saw, and what I experienced was mind blowing. 

On Day One we were invited to attend a networking session and meet people with disabilities from all over the world. We were asked to attend a meeting to discuss the Mid Term of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), https://www.undrr.org/publication/sendai-framework-disaster-risk-reduction-2015-2030 which is a great read on its own. I was able to talk on behalf of PDA and the work we do in Australia and how it fits into the framework. Thanks to Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) and People with Disabilities Australia (PWDA) for hosting a fabulous lunch. 

Day 2-4 saw meetings and discussion on topics such as:

  • * Experiences and Challenges of Emergency Management Volunteers to Enabling resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure transitions in Small Island Developing States
  • * Gender considerations in DRR 
  • * Climate Change
  • * Building resilient Communities by investing in DRR Literacy for proactive Actions focusing on “Leave No One Behind”

I got to meet some very motivated people from all over Asia Pacific including Setareki Macanawai, the CEO of the Pacific Disability Forum from Fiji, John from the Tongan Disability Advocacy Network and Kepueli Ngaluafe, a very recent amputee from Tonga who works in the Ministry of Finance.

The days were full, but for me, the real work was done at night. I had the opportunity to share PDA with some academics from the University of Newcastle, the University of Melbourne, and the University of the Gold Coast. All of them are keen to connect and, hopefully, do some paid collaboration with us around DRR for our PWD here at home. I got to meet some fabulous people working in DPOs in Australia, some folk from AFDO (Australian Federation of Disability Organisations), some folk from WWDA (Women With Disabilities Australia) and some amazing people from QDN.

I would try to explain what this it was like to be at this conference. I have been to way too many conferences, but this was so worthwhile and I can see great things coming out of it for PDA, for PWD and for the whole of Australia.

When it rolls around again, who is coming with me? 

I guarantee, you will not be disappointed.

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