Home to a new life and a new calling
CANBERRA, Australia, 21 June 2011—Things are finally looking up for Antoni Tsaputra. The 34-year-old Indonesian is returning home after securing a master's degree in journalism and mass communication at Griffith University in Australia.
Tsaputra, who was born with a defect that left him unable to move from the hips down, is the first recipient of the Australian Development Scholarships Disability Carers Package, which is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
Tsaputra is one of more than 1 billion people in the world with some form of disability. Of this number, nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning.
Because of barriers in accessing services, especially in disadvantaged communities, people with disabilities have poorer health, lower educational achievements and higher rates of poverty than those without disabilities.
In the years to come, disability will even be a greater issue, according to the recently launched World Report on Disability, produced by the World Health Organization and the World Bank Group. Ageing populations and the higher risk of disability in older people, as well as the global increase in chronic health conditions—diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental disorders and injuries—point to a growing problem.
With study leave over, Tsaputra will get back to his job at the Department of Communication and Information Technology in his home town of Padang. But, his time in Australia has inspired him to take on a new challenge: to press for better treatment for people with disabilities. "It is my greatest passion now to encourage people with disabilities to fight for their rights," he said.
His words echo the World Report's call on all stakeholders to create enabling environments to benefit people with disabilities. These measures include:
- developing rehabilitation and support services
- ensuring adequate social protection
- creating inclusive policies and programmes, and
- enforcing new and existing standards and legislation.
The World Report on Disability outlines innovative policies and programmes that can improve the lives of people with disabilities. And it urges implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in May 2008.
Tsaputra says his hope for Indonesia is for "an inclusive society, barrier free, equal opportunities for people with disabilities, and human rights-based treatment." "That would be my dream Indonesia," he said. "What a nice place to live in it would be."
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