Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Vaughn Miller has affirmed The Government’s commitment to creating a Bahamas in which all citizens can participate and benefit including persons with disabilities. He said the Government cannot do it alone and acknowledged stakeholders including the church, NGOs, and civil society for their involvement in the delivery of services, support, policy implementation and opportunities to empower persons with disabilities. Mr. Miller addressed an appreciation luncheon in observance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Friday, December 1, 2017, at the Department of Physical Planning. The theme was “Transformation Towards a Sustainable and Resilient Society for All.” International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3 annually.
Receiving awards for their outstanding work in assisting persons with disabilities were: Olly Mae Knowles, educator; Detrix Hamilton, architect; Maria Deleveaux, principal, William Lightbourne, and Iris Adderley, consultant. The luncheon was one of several educational and recreational events planned for the week to bring attention to the rights and challenges of persons with disabilities and highlight their achievements and talents. It was hosted by the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, and the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development. The Parliamentary Secretary told the audience that the theme aligned with the agenda of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which promised to ‘leave no one behind’.
“To leave no one behind’ affirms that everyone benefits, but it also implies that every member of our society has a contribution to make. Indeed everyone, including persons with disabilities, has a critical role to play in national development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. Mr. Miller said disability concerns all, as much as it affects all, and is one of the reasons why The Bahamas enacted the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act in 2014, and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015. “This is why this Ministry continues to be deliberate in addressing the rights and needs of persons with disabilities, particularly through its Disability Affairs Division, its National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, and its technical and financial support of many of the disability organizations.
“Our recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities means they must be included, they must not be discriminated against, they must be supported and they must be given the opportunities and the means to participate equally in society,” he said. Moreover, Mr. Miller remarked that it is important to give attention to implementing measures to avoid preventable disabilities. “Creating an environment that empowers persons with disabilities involves a commitment to investing in all people, including persons with disabilities by creating employment opportunities, affordable and accessible healthcare and social protection. “Indeed, as the old adage goes, ‘when the tide rises all boats float’. A sustainable and resilient society means everyone is better prepared to take advantage of opportunities, become agents of change and can more readily embrace their civic responsibilities,” said Mr. Miller.
He extended appreciation to current and past members of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities for the work given in the past three years. The present Commission’s term will soon end and a new Commission will begin work within the next two weeks.