PR211102: Launch of the public consultation in respect of Malta’s 2021-2030 National Strategy on the Rights of Disabled Persons

‘Freedom to Live’, Malta’s 2021-2030 National Strategy on the Rights of Disabled Persons, was formally launched for public consultation today by Minister for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing Julia Farrugia Portelli. This strategy was developed by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) within the Office of the Permanent Secretary, through a working group made up of key experts over the past years.

Minister Farrugia Portelli explained that, following an earlier consultation in this respect, a document was produced, pinning the main Articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to different objectives that the strategy has. She also emphasised the fact that, aside from mirroring these international obligations binding Malta, these objectives are additionally linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are scheduled to be achieved by 2030, the end year also intentionally selected for Malta’s strategy. She added that the obligations that Malta has in terms of the United Nations’ Sendai Framework also feature in connection with strategy actions linked to disaster risk management and reduction.

Alistair de Gaetano, responsible for the ODI, mentioned that the strategy’s 13 different objectives contain within each one of them a number of different actions, all 63 of which are linked to specific timeframes for implementation, while highlighting key stakeholders to be involved in this respect. He further stated that the objectives follow on from the different topics covered in Malta’s 2014 National Policy on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and address key issues necessary for ensuring implementation of the UNCRPD at domestic level, with particular attention being paid to Malta’s particularities, strengths and key challenges.

One principal element emphasised by the strategy is the requirement that disabled persons be the key drivers behind this strategy, in line with the UNCRPD mantra of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’, while delivering on the promise of Agenda 2030, the United Nations document responsible for the SDGs, to ‘Leave No One Behind’. While this fact is emphasised throughout the document, it is also backed up by Malta’s UNCRPD Bill, currently out for public consultation. This sets up a standing civil society participation forum, through which all discussions related to disability policy and practice in Malta – including those linked to implementing the strategy – would be run in future.

Permanent Secretary within the Ministry Matthew Vella, explained how final implementation of the strategy would, aside from ensuring the primary role played by disabled persons, be a multi-stakeholder exercise, carried out through Malta’s national coordination mechanism, set up further to the convention, and provided for through the UNCRPD Bill. He continued by pointing out that this structure would ensure streamlined work between different state entities and line ministries, both those specified in the strategy and others, in order to detail an implementation plan, and holistically deliver on the strategy’s objectives, while avoiding silos and duplication of efforts.

Monitoring of these implementation efforts would be the responsibility of the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), Malta’s independent monitoring body for the sector, which is being further strengthened through amendments to the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act that are currently being discussed, and through related legislation.

Interested entities and members of the public are invited to take part in the public consultation in respect of the strategy, that will run between the 9th of June and the 7th of July. Through https://meae.gov.mt/en/Public_Consultations/MISW/Pages/Consultations/Maltas20212030NationalStrategyontheRightsofDisabledPersons.aspx, simple, accessible online consultation forms are available in Maltese and English, while both standard and Easy Read versions of the Strategy, in Maltese and English, can be consulted.