A Disability Rights Law in Bali Must be Regulated

I Gede Widiasa is a husband and father to two children, working as a masseuse in Denpasar and has been living with low vision since his youth. After grappling a fever when he was two years old, Widiasa lost some of his sight.

Widiasa toils to provide for his family like many others in Bali but like other local people with a disability, he finds it challenging to access good jobs, entering buildings or using public transport on the island.

“We need the government to make rules for people with a disability, so that buildings have to be accessible for people with a disability as well as public transport spaces, airport terminals and hospitals etcetera,” he says.

160 signatories have signed up to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In 2011, the Indonesian Government ratified the UN’s (CRPD), and a disability rights law (PERDA) was introduced in the Bali Province in October 2015.

But it’s a law in name only, and it isn’t enforced or regulated.

For a Balinese parent who faces discrimination when trying to enroll their child with a disability in a local school or a person with a disability who’s overlooked for a job because their employer fails to see their abilities, they feel powerless when there isn’t an enforced robust law in place.

Bali is the world’s top tourism destination but it’s largely inaccessible for many of its residents and tourists with a disability who want to enjoy its pristine sites.

PUSPADI Bali staff held a meeting recently about pushing forward with the draft of governor regulations for the PERDA No. 9/2015 on the Protection and Fulfillment of the rights of PwDs (local disability rights law), inviting key figures such as Balinese Government officials as well as Dwi Ariyani from the Disability Rights Fund, Karen Reyes from UCP Wheels for Humanity (based in the US) and people with disabilities.

“Even though in Bali there is PERDA, if there isn’t Governor Regulations to implement the law it doesn’t mean anything,” Dwi Ariyani says.

“From the meeting, we discussed how we could move forward with the establishment of an independent watchdog committee on disability that has a strong link to the government and people with disability organisations, so that the PERDA can be reinforced,” Ibu Dwi says.

They want the committee to directly influence the government to allocate budget funds for people with disabilities for rehabilitation, educational and training opportunities and to improve accessibility in infrastructure.

“It’s very difficult because people say, ‘yes, you have access to education or buildings or public spaces and the law says that,’ but under which implementing regulations?” Ibu Dwi says.

“With an enforced PERDA and regulations, a person with a disability who experiences violence or problems accessing an education in Bali province can approach the committee and it could help them resolve their issues.”

Dwi Ariyani (far right) from the Disability Rights Fund speaking at the meeting with PUSPADI Bali’s Director I Nengah Latra (far left) and Balinese Government officials.

Furthermore, our Director  I Nengah Latra and other disability support organisations are calling for an effective health insurance scheme that all Balinese and Indonesian people with disabilities can access (which directly includes the input of people with disabilities and tailors to their needs).

“We’re committed to providing rehabilitation as well as support to more than 4,500 people with disabilities in Bali and East Indonesia but there is a need for a working health insurance scheme to improve the quality of life and ease the financial pressures on people with a disability,” Pak Latra, PUSPADI Bali’s Director says.

At the meeting, the Balinese Government said they’ll discuss the final draft regulations (including the proposal of an independent committee) which was put forward to them and it should be passed before next year.

(Featured image copyright (left): Harjono Djoyobisono).