Opening Address by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
PACAP 2014 Awarding Ceremony
and PACDLD Book Launch
Bayleaf Hotel, Intramuros, Manila
19 November 2014
• Ms Maribel Buenaobra, PACAP Team Leader
• Mr Ogie Gonzales, Executive Director, Philippine Association for Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities (PACDLD)
• Ms Jeanne Gonzales (PACDLD)
• Ms Avigail Olarte, Vera Files
• Executive Directors of the 2014 Grantees
• Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to welcome everyone here today as we celebrate two significant milestones made possible through our strong partnership with The Asia Foundation. The first one is the Awarding Ceremony for our 2014 grantees under the Philippines Australia Community Assistance Program or PACAP. And the other is the launch of a book developed by our PACAP partner that promises to deliver positive outcomes for people with disabilities.
I am therefore both pleased and excited to be part of the festivities this afternoon.
PACAP holds a distinct, if not extraordinary place, in Australia’s aid program. It is perhaps one of our longest-running and well-received programs in the Philippines. Our support has gone a long way toward offering opportunities to thousands of men, women, children, youth, and people with disabilities, to lead better lives. Since 1986, PACAP has and continues to support poor communities in all parts of the country.
If you think 1986 is a long time, it would interest you to know that in 2016, we will be celebrating 70 years of bilateral relations between Australia and the Philippines. This partnership extends to many areas of mutual interest to both our countries like trade, education, regional security, defence, and development cooperation.
Australia is one of the Philippines’ largest development partners with an investment of up to $143 million this year. This amount goes to many projects that support Australia’s national interests and Philippine Government priorities.
Australia’s aid program works in similar areas to PACAP’s community initiatives. For example:
- we help over 8 million boys and girls to stay in schools by working with the Department of Education in their Kto12 program. Our assistance helps public school teachers teach better, that the curriculum is at par with international standards, and that students have access to high quality learning materials;
- we help build resilience by working with the Office of Civil Defence and the scientific agencies for helping communities prepare for disasters through timely information;
- we rehabilitate and maintain roads in Southern Philippines, cutting transportation costs and increasing access of poor Filipinos to basic services, such as schools and health clinics.
I therefore would like to recognise the 17 organisations who have been successful in obtaining PACAP support. You are now part of Australia’s program tradition and legacy for promoting better services delivery at community level. So, congratulations to you. We will be keen to hear about your achievements in the future.
I also wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the Philippine Association of Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities (PACDLD) for the completion of their book. As I said in my foreword, we are proud to be part of this worthy endeavour. This manual, appropriately entitled “Parenting Children with Disabilities”, will surely go a long way in helping parents with the support and tools they need to help their children reach their full potential.
Australia has a strong commitment to disability-inclusive development, which is reflected in our aid program in the Philippines. Inclusive development occurs when the changes brought about by the work that we do benefit all members of the community (abled, disabled, young and old, boys and girls, men or women).
Australia’s other significant contribution to the disability agenda is the Fully Abled Nation (FAN) campaign. I am glad to see some of our FAN partners here today. We hope you continue to campaign successfully for greater participation of persons with disabilities in the democratic and development space.
Finally, I wish to thank The Asia Foundation who has been managing the PACAP program on our behalf. We look forward to more meaningful outcomes from this development partnership.
Again, my warm congratulations to the round 2014 PACAP partners and to PACDLD for making a difference in promoting inclusive growth. We wish you well on all your endeavours.
Thank you and good afternoon.