Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein

Statement on Victim Assistance, by Ms Jane Hardy, 10 September 2015





Madam President

Australia is pleased to be serving as Co-Coordinator of the Working group on Victim Assistance for 2015-16.  We have worked closely with Mexico in the first year of this role, including in the development of the Victim Assistance segment of the Dubrovnik Action Plan, and thank Mexico for its hard work and support during our period as Co-Coordinators.  We welcome Chile as the new Coordinator in 2016 and look forward to an equally productive working relationship.

In addition to our work on the section on Victim Assistance in the Dubrovnik Action Plan, we were pleased to contribute to awareness raising of the victim assistance framework provided by the CCM, and the importance of ensuring non-discrimination and respect for the rights of victims of cluster munitions, through a presentation at the Bangkok Symposium on Landmine Victim Assistance in June this year.

Madam President

Australia remains committed to improving the quality of life for victims of explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions.

Victim assistance is a significant focus of Australia’s mine action assistance, comprising approximately 20 per cent of our mine action funding. 

Our approach to victim assistance funding is to focus on building appropriate and sustained capacities within affected states to address both the immediate and the long-term challenges of victim assistance.  Australia has also been working with partners to support the care, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims, with an emphasis on improving well-being and livelihoods.

In order to enhance the sustainability of victim assistance, Australia has prioritised initiatives that develop and integrate services for victims into national level health and disability policies and programs.

Madam President

In addition to specific victim assistance provided to victims of cluster munitions through our mine action funding, Australia provides support of potential benefit to victims through its $5 billion annual aid program.

This includes the support it provides to strengthening the capacity of national health and socio-economic development programs, and over $230 million over the past two years which Australia has contributed to initiatives which improve the quality of life for people with disability, including those who have acquired their disability as a result of cluster munitions. 

Australia’s programming in disability follows the twin-track approach.  We aim to have both disability-specific programs which target people with disabilities to increase their participation, and a mainstream approach, which enables people with disabilities to participate in and benefit from all our aid investments across all sectors.

In May this year Australia launched Development for All 2015-2020, our second disability-inclusive development strategy which aims strengthen disability inclusion across our aid program, in order to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities, including victims of cluster munitions, in developing countries.

Under this strategy, Australia will support victims of cluster munitions, to find pathways out of poverty and realise their potential through a range of concrete measures.

We will support partner governments in our region to ratify and implement the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which provides the foundation for the victim assistance obligations in the CCM and is expressly referred to in the preamble to the CCM.

And we will also continue to support the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, who in turn support multilateral organisations to work with partner governments to improve the implementation of the CRPD.

We will continue to work with our partner governments to strengthen their primary health services.

We will continue to support inclusive education and technical and vocational programs, through our education programs and through partnerships with UNICEF.

We will continue to work to ensure people with disability have access to our infrastructure and water, sanitation and hygiene investments.

We will continue to support research into disability-inclusiveness across a range of sectors.

We will continue to consider people with disabilities when delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster risk reduction and social protection programs.

We will continue to support governance for equality to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities and outcomes in public life, such as access to health, education, transportation, employment, and political processes (such as voting), and in leadership roles and through representation by Disabled Peoples Organizations.

We will continue to support the capacity building of Disabled Peoples Organisations through partnerships with the Disability Rights Fund, International Disability Alliance and Pacific Disability Forum.

We will provide reasonable accommodation to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in all parts of Australia’s aid program, including in the Australia Awards Scholarships and Volunteer Program.

We will support Australian volunteers to work in community service delivery programs in our partner countries, to provide services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthoses, and community based rehabilitation.

And we will support the work of the Washington Group on disability-inclusive data collection, to ensure internationally comparable disability disaggregated data and statistics.  Gathering reliable, internationally comparable data on people with disabilities, including victims of cluster munitions is critical in ensuring they are visible in the global development agenda.

Madam President

Disability-inclusive development is good practice development, contributing to poverty alleviation and improved economic outcomes, stability and prosperity.

We consider that to be effective in reducing poverty, international development assistance must actively include and benefit people with disability.

Whether we label our support "victim assistance" or not, we should be clear that States Parties may be fulfilling their obligations to provide assistance for cluster munitions victims in a variety of different ways and with a variety of different labels.

What is important is that our support makes a difference, be in in the short term or in the longer term, and in the most sustainable way, through institution building and capacity support.

Finally, Madam President

Australia will continue to look for opportunities to better utilise scarce resources to meet the Convention’s promise to assist victims. 

Australia encourages affected States, with support from development partners, to proactively assess and integrate victim assistance requirements into national plans that address disability, healthcare, rehabilitation, social services and employment.  The integration and enhancement of victim assistance into broader national policies will help ensure that victim assistance is addressed by national institutions and predictably funded into the future.

Thank you Madam President.