Achieving equality for people with disability in Cambodia

This research examined the development programs of non-government organisations that aim to improve employment outcomes for persons with disabilities in Cambodia. Critically, this project was conducted in partnership with the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO) and built their capacity as researchers and advocates.

The study found that interventions to enhance persons with disabilities access to employment in Cambodia have largely focused on persons with disabilities themselves – that is supply-side factors that aim to improve educational attainment, acquire vocational skills and provide loans to establish small businesses and nurture entrepreneurs. The employment outcomes of these NGO programs however, have been poorly evaluated, if at all, and anecdotal evidence suggests that successes have been inconsistent. The study concluded that for interventions to improve persons with disabilities access to employment to be successful, they need to focus on both sides of the employment equation: persons with disabilities or supply-side factors, and on employers or demand-side factors. The study demonstrated identified a gap: greater attention needs to be given to engagement with employers to build their confidence to appropriately recruit and support employees with disabilities in the workplace.

This study has raised the importance of disability and employment issues within Australia’s Development for All policy and has provided the Australian and Cambodian Governments with a clear strategy on how to improve employment outcomes for persons with disabilities. Interventions based on the findings of this research will ensure that the commitments both governments have made under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are translated into improved quality of life for persons with disabilities.

Chief Investigators Dr Alexandra Gartrell, Associate Professor Elizabeth Hoban and Dr Kevin Murfitt

Funder Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)

Other Partners The Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation

Date of Award 2013-2016