Quarterly update from Australian Business Volunteers.
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Dear Reynaldo,

This issue of Perspectives focuses on disability-inclusive development and highlights the roles volunteers can play in supporting disabled people in the region.
In developing countries, disability is found to deepen poverty due to multiple barriers that prevent an individual and their family’s full participation in social, economic and political life. For this reason during the 13-14 financial year, 12 percent of ABV-implemented Australian Volunteers for International Development assignments involved our volunteers working within a disability organisation.
In this issue, we showcase two such host organisations and the outcomes achieved by ABV volunteers and their counterparts; at Rawinala in Indonesia and the Centre of Research and Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Viet Nam. Such organisations play an important role in opening up opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to gain education, healthcare,  employment, and, in many cases, a voice.
We are fortunate to have ABV Volunteer, Emi Weir, interview her counterpart, Kinnalone Nueaneviengkham, at the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre on the personal and professional challenges facing women with disabilities. Finally, I hope the inspiring profile on ABV Volunteer, Wayne Slattery, will encourage others with disabilities to apply for ABV assignments in the future.

Sarah O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer
November 2014  

In this edition

  What is disability-inclusion Read 
  Volunteers support students Read
  New hearing aids for kids Read
  Q&A with Kinnalone Read 
  Volunteer profile Read 

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What is disability inclusiveness and why is it important?

People with disability face many barriers to full participation in society and are likely to face an increased risk of social exclusion. This may include being unable to access education, health services, earn a living or participate in decision making.  Social exclusion is a major contributor to the level of poverty which people with disability experience, particularly those who live in developing countries. According to the World Report on Disability published in 2011, 15 percent of the world’s population consist of people with disability, and one in five people living in poverty in developing countries have a disability.[1]

In developing countries, the high cost of health care tends to exacerbate the poverty for people with disability as it can exclude children living with disabilities from education and limits future employment opportunities. This generally leads to a poverty cycle where disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty for not just individuals but families and communities.

The financial cost of not including people with a disability includes the loss of income from the people with disabilities not participating in the workforce, the financial and time cost of family members supporting and caring for members with disability, and the cost of treatment and rehabilitation.[2] As a consequence, the total loss from not including people with disabilities far outweighs the cost of including them. Disability inclusiveness therefore needs to be both recognised as good development practice and addressed as part of mainstream development agendas.
In this regard, it is not about helping people who are disabled but more about how society can enable people with disabilities to participate in everyday activities through removing barriers. This is what is considered the social development approach to disability.

Another important approach to development is the rights-based approach, where the focus is on emphasising the dignity and worth of people with disability by providing opportunities to play an active role in decision-making processes. Disability inclusiveness is a combination of the social and rights-based approaches. There are four core principles of disability inclusiveness.

Firstly, raising awareness of the barriers that people with disability face and forming strategies to remove them. Participation of people with disability in the decision-making process to build skills and capacity and foster changes in attitude. Comprehensive accessibility through the removal of barriers including physical/environmental, policy, attitudinal and communications barriers. The last principle is the twin-track approach where disability is targeted through disability specific projects by empowering people with disability through participation, along with disability-inclusive projects that ensure projects are developed to be fully inclusive and accessible to people with disability.[3]
ABV is committed to the principles of equality of opportunity in all aspects of its operations for staff, volunteers and stakeholders and supports the implementation of processes which encourage and demonstrate disability inclusive development practices and disability-specific activities. 

The Australian Government’s “Development for All” defines disability inclusive development as ensuring that everything that development partners do takes account of, includes and benefits people with disability.[4] At ABV this means looking at how we can partner with organisations that work in the disability sector; educate our volunteers and staff on disability inclusiveness; and develop organisational policies and a workplace that is inclusive to staff, partners and volunteers with disabilities.

As a result ABV is focusing this quarter on highlighting assignments that our volunteers have done within the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program in the disability sector. During the 13-14 financial year, 12 percent of ABV AVID assignments were considered working with a disability organisation. Assignments were typically in Lao PDR, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, where the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) country-specific aid agenda aligns with this development priority. This is a 100 percent increase from the previous financial year, where only 6 percent of assignments fell into this category. This demonstrates the increased commitment of both ABV and the Australian Government to assist organisations and people with disabilities through our volunteering programs. Recent assignments include a construction business advisor at a disability NGO in Timor-Leste, handicraft and business development at two social enterprises working with people with disabilities in Vietnam and organisational planning in community disability programs in the Philippines. These are in addition to case studies presented in this edition. ABV volunteers have acted as counterparts with an array of people living with disabilities from hearing impaired, vision impaired, landmine and accident victims and those impacted by polio or other debilitating illnesses.

ABV is also working on additional online training modules that should be launched early next year that focus on disability inclusiveness in development. This is to better inform and train ABV volunteers on the concept of disability inclusive development and provide them with tools to use on their assignments. ABV will also ensure all staff are trained and are aware of the principles and practice of disability inclusiveness through internal workshops with training specialists in this field. This will ensure that as an organisation ABV is better prepared and equipped to engage with host organisations working in disability, support volunteers and staff from partner organisations with disabilities, as well as ensure that the workplace is accessible.
[1] World Health Organisation and the World Bank. (2011). World Report on Disability. World Health Organisation. Geneva. Page 27. (Retrieved from )
[2] CBM (2012) CBM Inclusion made easy, p10
[3] CBM (2012) CBM Inclusion made easy, p20-24.
[4] Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). 2008. Development for All: Towards a disability-inclusive Australian aid program 2009–2014. Commonwealth of Australia. Canberra. (Retrieved from )
Written by: Alex Ford, AVID Program Manager

Case study: ABV volunteers support special needs students in Indonesia

Yayasan Pendidikan Dwituna Rawinala (Rawinala) is a non-government organisation based in  the south-east of central Jakarta which has been educating multiply-disabled (both mentally and physically) and vision impaired students (MDVI) for the past 40 years.  Established in 1973, Rawinala provides living facilities for children unable to reside full-time in a family environment. With three programs in early learning, basic education and vocational training, the organisation offers a curriculum based on a holistic approach to teaching children how to learn, live, play and love. It is the only institution of its kind in Indonesia, a country where it is estimated that 30,000 children live with MDVI.

In early 2013, Rawinala approached ABV for organisational assistance. As a result ABV Volunteer, Andrew Neeson, travelled to Jakarta in May 2013 as a Business Development Advisor. A key outcome of Andrew’s assignment was the development of a comprehensive strategic plan together with staff to guide Rawinala’s future direction. Andrew noted that “vigorous discussion was devoted to determining what Rawinala’s guiding principles and values should be to underpin the strategic plan, a key one of these was that all members of the Rawinala community will be considered as ‘Family’”.

The strategic plan developed during Andrew’s assignment incorporated goals, strategies, tasks, accountabilities and timelines to bring that vision to reality. In order to implement the plan, Andrew believed it was important for Rawinala to undertake baseline research to ascertain the demand for practical teacher training of MDVI students, both within Indonesia and the ASEAN region, over the next 5-7 years. This in turn will inform any decisions about necessary building work and associated infrastructure to meet such demand. Although small fees are charged and the organisation has some government support, approximately 60 percent of funding comes from individual donors. Therefore, during Andrew’s assignment a need was identified for further work in the area of fundraising to sustainably balance these costs into the future.

Following this recommendation, a second ABV Volunteer, Peter Hudson, joined Rawinala seven months later as a Fundraising Advisor. Peter built on Andrew’s work, training and mentoring the fundraising committee Peter established within Rawinala. The committee was trained in various fundraising techniques and in developing a range of promotional materials.

An additional outcome of the assignment was the establishment of a high profile Indonesian as an ambassador for the organisation. Peter felt that the “members of the Fundraising Committee maintained a positive desire to learn and to further develop their skills” and “the benefits now in place should sustain the organisation over the next twelve months”.

The assignment was Peter’s fourth assignment with ABV, and the Business Development Advisor assignment was Andrew’s ninth and also his “most engaging, challenging and rewarding assignment for ABV”. Andrew felt that “the atmosphere at Rawinala is one of shared endeavour in the service of severely disadvantaged children, but it is one of joy and hope, where little successes are celebrated by all, and setbacks felt by everyone”.

Both assignments were part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. As part of the AVID program, ABV in partnership with Scope Global, mobilises short-term business volunteers to Asia and the Pacific. AVID is an Australian Government initiative. 

The term ‘Rawinala’ means ‘a light heart’ in an ancient Javanese language. The organisation believes that even though the students cannot visually see, they can ‘see’ through the other senses including their heart and feelings. 
Photo 1: ABV Andrew Neeson pictured (middle) with Rawinala staff from left to right: PR and Fundraising Manager Belle Mantiri, Headmaster Budi Prasojo, Deputy Headmaster Prabarini, and former Director Sigid Widodo.
Photo 2: ABV Peter Hudson hard at work at the Rawinala offices.

New hearing aids reach children in Viet Nam: How collaboration of two remarkable women brought sound to children

ABV Volunteer, Dr Beatrice (Bea) Duffield, arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam in November 2013 to undertake an assignment with the Centre of Research and Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CED), under the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. This assignment was designed to help staff develop business skills and capabilities. Little did Bea and CED know that the assignment would also generate unexpected outcomes for dozens of disadvantaged Vietnamese hearing-impaired children and their families.

CED is a local Vietnamese social enterprise that provides assistance and support to people living in poverty with hearing impairments. Established in 2010 by its founder and director, Ms Duong Phuong Hanh, CED is the only hearing-impaired organisation that looks beyond ‘deaf education’ and instead undertakes a holistic approach to hearing issues of the poor in Viet Nam. This includes fostering life skills for the hearing-impaired and generating employment opportunities, as well as actively participating in national policy lobbying, research and publications. CED also supervises social-work students who support people with hearing impediments and provides healthcare services, such as conducting hearing checks and supplying hearing aids to poor children.

Bea’s three month placement focused on assessing CED’s existing business activities, determining CED’s future business direction and making recommendations on how to make business improvements, including greater external support and funding. The main outcome of Bea’s work was the development of a business strategy and a set of training tools for staff to implement this strategy.

An ‘additional’ assignment outcome was Bea’s successful sponsorship attainment and long-term partnership development with an Australian hearing impaired not-for-profit organisation, Hear and Say in Queensland. Hear and Say generously donated 60 brand-new high quality hearing aids to CED worth AUD$2,000 each. ABV was lucky enough to visit Ms Hanh at CED in Vietnam and simultaneously deliver the sponsored hearing aids in person. CED were extremely grateful for Bea and ABV for enabling this donation to manifest so quickly. The donated hearing aids will allow 30 children with nearly 100 percent hearing loss to have the opportunity to hear again, due to most children at the centre requiring one hearing aid for each ear.

When asked about the difference between the much cheaper (AUD$200 each) second hand hearing aids that CED primarily has some access to compared to the new hearing aids, Ms Hanh commented:

“Brand new hearing aids, especially high quality ones such as these, allow children with an 80 to 100 percent hearing impairment to be able to hear. The second hand ones can only assist children with a 60 to 70 percent hearing loss and are a lot poorer quality with a very short battery life capacity. The main issue for us has been that most of the children with a hearing impairment in Viet Nam are nearly 100 percent deaf.

“Many people think that we can get hearing aids cheaply in South-east Asia because we have a lot of people working in production. However, this is not the case. Countries like Viet Nam make many of the parts but the hearing aids themselves get assembled overseas in countries like Denmark,” Ms Hanh further explained.

Viet Nam’s gross national income per capita was US$1,640 per annum in 2012, however, incomes are considerably less for the poor families supported by CED.[1] If one hearing-impaired child requires two new hearing aids, the cost to the family would be US$3,520, (not including batteries). Therefore most hearing-impaired children in Viet Nam never get a chance to be able to hear.

When asked why CED focuses on working with mainly very young children, Ms Hanh explained:

In countries like the US, hearing aid intervention is targeted for under 2 year olds. Research has found that this is the most effective time for children to learn how to adapt to sound and speech. Though, ideally, we also aim to do this, in many poorer countries like Viet Nam, we still distribute hearing aids to children who are under the age of six, as they still can adapt. We do this because we simply cannot get to all of them in time. The amount of deaf children is relatively high throughout the country and the majority of these children still do not have access to adequate, if any, hearing aids.”

Receiving the hearing aid is only half the process, as it can take a child several years to learn how to adapt to sound. This requires trained staff and also specific training for the child’s family. Once the child starts having the capacity to function independently on his or her own, this has a huge flow on effect to their families and communities. When a child no longer requires the full time attention of an adult and is more able to start going to school, this allows parents to take on additional work.
Ms Hanh’s dream is to eventually be able to provide hearing aids, education and life skills to hearing impaired orphaned children and build a school for these children.

“Having the support and amazing energy and drive of someone as skilled as Bea has been a huge gift to us and so many families. Bea and I are in contact a lot and she is still helping us all the way from Australia. She is looking at opportunities for us to send some of our staff on a sponsored scholarship to learn the latest on education, life skills and research to support hearing impaired children.  She has truly been a great gift to us and now a dear friend,” said Ms Hanh.

As part of the AVID program, ABV in partnership with Scope Global, mobilises short-term business volunteers to Asia and the Pacific. AVID is an Australian Government initiative. 

To find out more about CED and how you can donate to keep the Centre running, please visit:

Photo 1: ABV Volunteer, Bea Duffield, and CED Director, Ms Duong Phuong Hanh.
Photo 2: Left to right: CED Director Ms Duong Phuong Hanh, ABV in-country manager, Hanh Hoang, ABV Project Manager, Kasia Gabrys, and staff and children from CED and the donated hearing aids.

Written by: Kasia Gabrys, Project Manager.
[1] United Nations Statistics Division. 2014. Country Profile: Viet Nam (website, last accessed 27/10/2014). New York. (View:

Q&A with Mrs Kinnalone Nueaneviengkham from the Lao Disabled Women's Development Centre

In May 2014, ABV Volunteer, Emi Weir, embarked on a three month Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) assignment as Business Development Advisor at the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre in Vientiane. Mrs Kinnalone Nueaneviengkham, one of the Centre’s deputy directors, was Emi’s counterpart and the interview subject for this article.

With the focus of this edition on disability-inclusiveness, it is timely to showcase this host organisation, its employees and programs. Emi kindly spent time with her counterpart who shared a little about herself and the organisation.

Mrs Kinnalone: I am 36 and live in Ban Pao outside of Vientiane with my husband. When I am not working I like to cook, exercise and often volunteer for different organisations. I contracted polio when I was young and my disability is in my legs. I can walk unassisted wearing a caliper.[1] Before I started working at the Centre I was a student studying accounting.

Emi: How did you come to work at the Centre and what does the organisation hope to achieve?

Mrs Kinnalone: After I graduated from college in accounting, I found it difficult to find work. The husband of the Centre’s director, Madame Chanphaeng, had a friend in my village and helped me look for work. I sent my CV to the LDPA (Lao Disable Peoples Association) and they passed it onto the Centre where they accepted me.  I have now been there 12 years.

The Centre wants to be a successful organisation of people with disabilities in Lao PDR and empower people to use their abilities by accessing education and employment. As a result, people with disabilities will have the knowledge, capacity and a means of gaining employment, generating income, helping themselves and contributing to the development of a sustainable society. The Centre has two main objectives: one is to train and empower women with disabilities, and the other is to advocate for the rights of women with disabilities.

Emi: What are some of the challenges women with disabilities face in Laos?

Mrs Kinnalone: One challenge is being recognised as an able contributor to society, however when people meet me they recognise I am very able. In Laos our facilities are very basic so getting around is one of the biggest challenges. There are no suitable vehicles for people with disability and we are often being hoisted in and out of tuk tuks (a form of public transport with a cabin compartment attached to a motorcycle). Also there are many stairs, and no ramps and the ground is very uneven making it difficult.

Emi: What are the best aspects of working at the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre?

Mrs Kinnalone: At the Centre I like working with other women, the other organisations that we partner with and doing administration and marketing duties.

Emi worked closely with her counterpart Kinnalone, to assist the organisation in developing income-generating activities. This included jointly reviewing the quality and costing of all products, developing a marketing plan and implementing a tourism strategy to widen the Centre’s opportunities.

Emi: What has been the achievements we have made together since I came to the Centre?

Mrs Kinnalone: I have learnt from you (Emi) about the tourism network, how it works in Vientiane and how best to promote. Also I have been introduced to many good contacts. I learnt about handicraft pricing and how best to have wholesale and retail pricing to increase our margins. Also how to design and set up the showroom and cafe to best display products and make it easy for the customers, and disabled women working there. And lastly I learnt about business processes, setting up simple processes for orders, income reporting.

Emi: What are your aspirations and plans for the future?

Mrs Kinnalone: In the future at the Centre I want to change the workshops that we put together (making handicraft and enjoying lunch) and introduce Lao culture to customers by having them prepare Lao snacks, and even Lao coffee for them to enjoy. I also want to introduce English to more of the students at the Centre by having foreign volunteers come and teach the students.

For my future, one day I would like to open my own business in my village, maybe a shop that would help support me and my husband.

Thank you to Mrs Kinnalone and Emi. We wish Mrs Kinnalone and the Centre all the very best for ongoing success. For more information on the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre go to

As part of the AVID program, ABV in partnership with Scope Global, mobilises short-term business volunteers to Asia and the Pacific. AVID is an Australian Government initiative. 

Photo: ABV Volunteer, Emi Weir (left), with Mrs Kinnalone Nueaneviengkham (right) from the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre.

Submitted by: Emi Weir and Kinnalone Nueaneviengkham.
[1] A caliper is a brace that fits around a leg to provide support and stability.

ABV volunteer profile: Wayne Slattery
Lessons from a volunteer living with a disability

ABV Volunteer, Wayne Slattery, demonstrates a commitment to achieving better outcomes for people living with disabilities both in Australia and overseas.  Wayne draws upon his own experiences as a person living with disability, his significant and varied career, and his domestic and international volunteering to highlight the challenges faced by those with disability, and to encourage everyone to positively consider disability inclusion.

At the young age of 20 months, Wayne was affected by polio. Initially he wore braces on both legs, later graduating to one leg-brace, and then required no braces for a number of years early in his career. The result of post-polio issues, however, means that Wayne is now back to wearing a brace on one leg. For most of his working career, Wayne did not think of himself as working with a disability. As his career progressed Wayne witnessed many people with disabilities who had not been as lucky, and as a result Wayne has become increasing involved in working and advocating on their behalf.

After 30 years’ working in the textile industry, firstly as an engineer and later in management in many countries including India, Bangladesh and Europe, Wayne has moved into community support and development roles. Currently Wayne works for Broadmeadows Disability Services as a social inclusion officer.  Wayne is also a member of Wyndham Disability Action Group, lobbying local state and federal governments to recognise and address the challenges and day-to-day issues faced by people with disabilities.
Wayne has a strong and ongoing relationship and affinity with Cambodia. Wayne’s wife Ravy is from Cambodia and she also was affected by Polio as a young child. Two of Wayne’s three ABV assignments have also been undertaken in Cambodia. Most notably, Wayne’s assignment with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Better Factories Cambodia saw him working with factory owners and management to improve the employment options for disabled workers, as well as training ILO staff on disability awareness and inclusion training, and developing disability policies.

During his volunteer experiences Wayne has witnessed the difficulty disabled people face in finding work. Significant factors were transport limitations, lack of access to locations and buildings, and also a ‘shame’ of having a disability that can limit their perceived contribution to everyday life. Despite the difficulty, Wayne saw progress being made in Cambodia as result of new national disability laws introduced in 2009. 

Contributing to this progress has been the significant number of Cambodian disability organisations that are run by people with disabilities, which is a contrast to what Wayne sees in Australia. Many Cambodians with disabilities also have access to education, international travel and work opportunities, often through aid and development programs. Wayne believes employment access is becoming worse, not better for disabled people in Australia. Factors such as online applications, essential qualifications and a general idea of selecting the best person for the job have become significant barriers for disabled people, who find it increasingly difficult to be considered for an interview.

For Wayne, volunteering has been a very positive and rewarding experience. His mobility limitations were able to be suitably accommodated and well supported by the host organisations, the general community and the ABV in-country management teams. Wayne encourages volunteer programs to ensure their processes and services are open and supportive of people with disabilities.

“Volunteer organisations should positively indicate support for volunteers, and ensure that identification is encouraged as a positive element, rather than a potential barrier,” said Wayne.

Wayne’s experience highlights the benefits for including disabled people in volunteer programs.  He believes that by seeing people with disability successfully undertaking assignments, this will encourage others in the same situation to do so.  Wayne and Ravy continue to work to support those with disabilities and the broader community. They have established the ‘Dreams Come True Community Education Centre’ in Prey Vang Province in Cambodia, and are in the process of building a school and training centre to support disadvantaged children and families. Wayne is looking forward to going on his next assignment with ABV and further sharing his experience with other volunteers.
Photo 1: Wayne Slattery.
Photo 2:  A page from Better Factories Cambodia's publication The Right to Decent Work for People with Disabilities. (See more at:

Written by: Simon Watson, Partnerships Manager
Australian Business VolunteersCopyright © 2014 Australian Business Volunteers, All rights reserved.

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