On March 1, 2016, the Polish Disability Forum (PFON) and its four partners launched the implementation of the project entitled „Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – a common cause”. The project is implemented as part of the Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development 2014 – 2020, Priority Axis II. Effective public policies for the labour market, economy and education, Activity 2.6 High quality policies for social inclusion and vocational inclusion of disabled persons. The project is co-funded from the EU’s European Social Fund. The implementation of the initiative will take two years.
Partners in the project are:
- the Warmińsko-Mazurskie Region Disability Forum (Warmińsko-Mazurski Sejmik Osób Niepełnosprawnych – W-MSON),
- the Lublin Region Disability Forum (Lubelskie Forum Organizacji Osób Niepełnosprawnych – Sejmik Wojewódzki LFOON-SW),
- the Maria Grzegorzewska University (Akademia Pedagogiki Specjalnej im. Marii Grzegorzewskiej APS),
- the law firm Domański Zakrzewski Palinka sp. k. (Kancelaria prawna Domański Zakrzewski Palinka sp. k. DZP).
The implementation of the initiative will take two years. The project is an important stage of the implementation of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), ratified by Poland in September 2012. The project is also a highly significant pool of activities postulated by the Convention as a means of involving persons with disabilities in public and political life. One of the key intentions behind the project is to create favourable conditions for the participation of disabled persons in the creation and effective introduction of legislation and policies that aim at the Convention’s implementation, as well as facilitating disabled persons’ participation all decision-making processes pertaining to disabled persons (in accordance with Article 4 CRPD).
The project has been prepared and planned in line with the guidelines concerning the correct implementation of the Convention contained in the Convention itself. The final shape of the project has also been significantly influenced by the mission of the Polish Disability Forum (PFON): our mission is “to unite the relevant social and institutional powers in order to create favourable conditions for equal opportunities and equal participation in the mainstream of social life, and to combat all forms of discrimination of disabled persons – in order to enable disabled persons to fully enjoy all human rights”.
The project’s concept has also been formed in alignment with PFON’s statutory aims i.e. strengthening disability NGOs and fostering partnership as well as cooperation of the NGOs with lawmakers and executive authorities at both central and local levels. Moreover, the project has been planned and will be implemented in alignment with The Strategic Plan of the Polish Disability Forum for the years 2015 – 2020. Striving for equality, independence and dignity for persons with disabilities”.
60 ENVIRONMENTAL DEBATES
The leading activity within the project in 2016 will be a series of advisory and programming debates in ten different communities of the disabled:
- physical (motor) disability,
- sight impairments,
- hearing impairments,
- the deaf-blind,
- intellectual disability,
- mental health problems,
- pervasive developmental disorders,
- impairments caused by neurological disorders and injuries,
- disabilities caused by chronic diseases,
- multiple disabilities and high support needs.
The series of 10 community debates will be organised in six locations across Poland. These locations are: Kraków, Wrocław, Lublin, Olsztyn (interchangeably with Gdańsk), Poznań and Warsaw. There will therefore be a total of sixty such debates, six in each community of the disabled.
The role of the advisory and programming debates organised in the communities is to enable particular groups of disabled persons to prepare their own community-based Convention implementation programmes. In order to develop their implementation programmes, the groups of persons with disabilities will receive expert support and advice from academics and specialists in particular fields. The subject scope of the debates will cover the current situation of particular groups, the extent to which they currenty exercise their rights, recognition of the scope and degree of discrimination, and the extent to which the needs and expectations of the group are met. The aim of the debates will also be to learn about the opinions of the particular groups/communities of the disabled concerning the implementation of the CRPD. During the debates the participants will discuss the directions for the activities that need to be undertaken in order to ensure a full and equal exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The debates will be co-organised by our collaborating partners, the regional disability forums. The community debates will be attended by a total of 870 persons, mostly disabled persons – but also people from their immediate environments. The participants of the debates will be the project’s programming advisers and they will be delegated by their disability organisations. On average, each debate will be attended by 29 programming advisers.
28 THEMATIC DEBATES
A very important component of the project, also to take place in 2016, is a series of thematic advisory and programming debates. The debates will facilitate in-depth consultations with experts, public administration staff, academics, representatives of schools and the health care system and other practitioners with a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to particular debate themes. These professionals will be the project’s programming advisers for particular themes/topics. The subject scope of the debates will be defined by the CRPD’s articles. There will be 28 thematic debates organised at the national level. On average, each debate will be attended by 29 thematic programming advisers.
The role of the thematic debates is to enable a broad spectrum of professionals who deal with disability and the exercise of the rights of disabled persons at national, regional and local levels to become involved in the process of implementation of the Convention. We believe that the extensive potential of the relevant knowledge and experience in Poland has not yet been tapped in order to facilitate the CRPD’s implementation. All of the thematic debates will take place in Warsaw but they will be attended by advisers from across the country. The debates will be organised by the Polish Disability Forum (PFON).
The outcomes of the community and thematic debates will be used to develop the deliverables of the project. All of the community and thematic debates will be attended by experts from abroad, predominantly representing the European Disability Forum (EDF), an organisation with the most up-to-date knowledge and experience regarding the Convention’s implementation in different areas and across different groups of persons with disabilities.
The project activities in 2016 will also include (apart from the debates), the delivery of the necessary statistical, political and legal analyses as well as sociological studies. The key aim of the project has been formulated in line with the requirements set out by the Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development 2014 – 2020. The aim is to achieve a state where public policy entities who take part in the process of implementation of the Convention in Poland have the necessary planning and programming potential and capacity to effectively perform the process of implementation, including the following:
- up-to-date knowledge about barriers giving rise to discrimination and hampering disabled persons’ full participation in social life, in the context of the exercise of the rights resulting from the CRPD;
- knowledge of the existing legal, administrative and organisational barriers in the process of implementation of the provisions of the CRPD;
- defined directions of change aimed at removing the barriers;
- formulated recommendations for changes to public policies leading to their alignment with the requirements of the CRPD.
In the first year of the project’s implementation, the achievement of its general aim requires the delivery of the so-called „Synthetic report”, a document composed of the following four parts:
- Strategic priorities of the process of implementation of the CRPD in Poland
- Barriers existing in CRPD implementation areas and the directions of activities aimed at eliminating the barriers
- CRPD implementation issues from the point of view of disabled persons and means of solving these issues – a synthesis of reports from particular disability communities
- Action plan for public policies and their coordination in order to ensure complementarity and cohesion of public policies.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHANGES PUBLIC POLICIES
In the second year of the project’s implementation, the achievement of its key aim is to be ensured by the development of a “Set of recommendations for changes to public policies in order to align the policies with the provisions of the CRPD”. The recommendations from the set will include concrete proposals of political, programme-related and legal changes. The preparation of the recommendations will also take place in collaboration with the ten communities of disabled persons, in line with the stipulations and commitments from Article 4 (3) CRPD recommending consultations with disabled persons as necessary in the process of creation and implementation of the legislation and policies aimed at the Convention’s implementation.
The project’s implementation in year 2 will therefore include the following:
- development of a proposal for political, programme-related and legal recommendations for the necessary changes to the relevant public policies having regard to the CRPD’s provisions (based on the “Synthetic Report”);
- organisation and delivery of community consultation debates concerning the proposed recommendations. There will be 40 such debates and they will be organised across the country (10 consultation debates in 4 different locations). The debates will be attended by representatives of organisations of disabled persons and advocacy organisations. Apart from persons with disabilities, the debates will be attended by their carers, professionals who deal with disability and practitioners who specialise in disability within the particular public policy areas.
- organisation and delivery of thematic consultation debates concerning proposed legal, political and programme-related changes to the 24 public policies. The thematic debates will be held among experts and will be aimed at producing opinions concerning the proposed recommendations for changes to particular public policies (with a view to align these policies with the CRPD). There will be 20 thematic debates organised at the national level. The outcomes from the community and thematic (consultation) debates will be presented in the form of reports and later used to prepare an assessment of the foreseen social and economic effects of the proposed regulations and final versions of the recommendations. We assume that the thematic and community debates will be attended by the persons who also participated in consultation and programming debates;
- delivery of an assessment of the predicted social and economic effects of the proposed recommendations;
- development of final versions of the recommendations i.e. extra-legal solutions and drafts of normative acts in compliance with lawmaking techniques, with accompanying justifications.
This project will make it possible not only to develop a programming and planning capacity of public policy entities (as formulated in the project’s general objectives) but it will also add a significant value in the form of:
- formulating an advanced process of forming organisational potential. This will be facilitated by the solidification of the stakeholders and entities taking part in the process at the national, regional and local level; furthermore, the functions and positions of these entities within the implementation process will be clarified;
- development of the human resources necessary for the process of implementation of the CRPD. The project will create natural conditions for defining a group of leaders of the implementation process;
- the social potential of the stakeholders of the implementation process – understood as a capacity to vertically and horizontally cooperate and support one another. Collaboration will be launched and cooperation principles will be forged between particular levels of implementation;
- communications capacity. This means that communication channels, means and bonds will be created between particular levels, entities, teams of experts and other stakeholders engaged in the implementation process;
- starting a lasting international cooperation as regards the implementation of the CRPD, including international information, research and development support for the process of implementation of the Convention, access to best practice from abroad and foreign organisations’ body of experience;
- joining the mainstream of global implementation of the CRPD and thus strengthening the process of implementation in Poland.
The budget of the project “Implementation of the UN Convention on Rights of Disabled Persons in Poland – a common cause” amounts to PLN 12,287,124, including the funding component from the European Social Fund amounting to PLN 10,355,588.