By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, March 5: There is still much to be done to turn Sarawak into a disabled-friendly state, admitted Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.
The Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister said the state government needed to look into capacity-building and improving facilities and accessibility.
She added that more advocacy and awareness initiatives needed to be carried out to ensure all society could play their role to improve the life quality of the disabled community.
This includes transportation and mobility as well as job opportunities.
“We need to create more awareness on the rights of the people with disability. We have to make the state more accessible to the disabled in all aspects, especially to improve our service and delivery.
“When we talk about facilities, even small things count. The simplest of task such as turning a tap should be made possible to all types of disabilities,” she told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from the Sarawak Social Welfare Council at Baitulmakmur complex here today.
The visit, led by council president Major Francis Ng of The Salvation Army, was to brief the minister on the council’s role, programmes and services to 35 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under its umbrella.
Fatimah gave a reminder on the need to create more employment opportunities for the handicapped community. Public transportation and mobility of the disabled, especially in common areas in public places, must be improved, she suggested.
When commenting on the state government’s plan to set up a primary school for special needs children, Fatimah said this would be a big step forward for Sarawak to raise awareness and cater for the needs of the disabled community.
She said her ministry would carry out studies and propose to the state government on the best practices and model, type of facilities, as well as specialised manpower needed to run the school, including teachers and therapists, particularly those dealing with speech rehabilitation.
“The special rehabilitation, be it for physical disabilities, autism, dyslexia, slow learners, is best carried out at the pre-school level. When it comes to this sort of intervention service, the earlier the better.
“However, the special primary school will be vital to further help rehabilitate the children until the age of 12. By then, we hope they will be ready (to cope on their own) when they reach secondary school level,” she said.
Fatimah also received a courtesy call from Curtin University, led by Pro Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences Prof Archie Clements and Curtin Malaysia board chairman Datu Ose Murang.
The university is interested in carrying out research on the health and wellbeing of children attending boarding schools in Sarawak. — DayakDaily