Today is the international day for persons with disabilities and a special gathering was held at the Commercial centre this morning to mark the day. The organisers invited students from the Primary school to join in the day which this year is based on the theme “Not all disabilities are visible”
Mrs. Lavaligi Mokalei, the vice-president of the national disability association Niue Tolomaki Auloa spoke about the work of the association since its inception 8 years ago. She acknowledged their members and some key individuals who were instrumental in setting up their association including the late Kela Vilisoni their former President. Mrs. Mokalei thanked the Pacific Disability Forum and the Niue government for the support in the establishment of the Niue Tolomaki Auoloa Association.
The association took advantage of the day to request government support for office space and space for the association to hold workshops and to sell their products.
Persons with disabilities in Niue receive a fortnightly benefit of $150 and Mrs Mokalei this year asked for this to increase to $300.
All government officials including the Minister of Social Services Hon. Sauni Togatule in their speeches did not mention the International convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) which Niue has yet to sign.
The International Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities came into force on the 3rd of May 2008 and has been ratified by 182 countries, including 12 Pacific Island countries. Niue and Palau are the only two countries that have not signed the convention. The Solomon Islands signed in 2008 and Tonga signed in 2007 but both countries have not ratified the convention.
The day included the launch of a multi-country UNESCO program including Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau and Samoa. According to the Director General Mrs Gaylene Tasmania, the one year UNESCO initiative will focus on children with disabilities.
Mrs. Birtha Togahai is the Director of Education and the UNESCO Commissioner for Niue introduced the Reference Group. The reference group is to promote social protection for persons with disabilities and it is also tasked to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information sharing relating to social protection between persons with disabilities in Niue.