Children with Disabilities: UNICEF
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Children with Disabilities: UNICEF

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The ISS General Secretariat in Geneva provides a global project A Better Future is Possible aimed at promoting the right of children with disabilities living in institutions to access family-based care.

In 2013, Damon Martin – Deputy CEO / Manager NSW Government Funded Services was selected as the Social Work Expert for this project and has completed over 15 missions to Vietnam, Cambodia and Azerbaijan.

Damon is proud to have led this UNICEF funded project in Cambodia since 2016.

This project began with a Needs Assessment Mission which resulted in an extensive report with recommendations to enhance alternative care opportunities for children with disabilities (CWD) in Cambodia. The report also included a foreword and endorsement from Minister Vong Sauth, Cambodia’s Minister of Social Affairs. The report can be downloaded here.

In February 2018, ISS Australia assembled a global team of CWD experts to travel to Cambodia and conducted the following:

  • A ‘Train the Trainer’ training in Phnom Penh to 13 selected Cambodian National Trainers (Government and NGO professionals), who in turn trained and provided ISS tools on social work activities, nutrition and feeding to staff caring directly for children with disabilities
  • A workshop in Phnom Penh that resulted in the development of a strategic plan to implement Small Group Homes for CWD
  • A workshop in Siem Reap that resulted in the development of a technical guidance document outlining the methodology to implement foster care for CWD

In July 2018, ISS Australia signed our largest UNICEF agreement which contained the following activities:  

  • Development of a data collection template for CWD living in Residential Care Institutions (RCI), Foster Care and Small Group Homes
  • Development of Standard Operating Procedures for establishment of Small Group Homes
  • Organised and facilitated a Study Tour for 7 Cambodian delegates (Government, NGO and UNICEF) to Hong Kong to explore good practices for family support, family-based care and Small Group Homes for CWD
  • Analysed and documented the lessons learnt, challenges and further training needs of the 13 National Trainers
  • Conducted follow up training in Phnom Penh for 13 National Trainers
  • Produced gatekeeping strategies to prevent the placement and abandonment of CWD in RCI
  • Developed specific standards for CWD in the kinship care, foster care and domestic adoption programme and implementation handbook developed by ISS General Secretariat

In November 2019, ISS Australia conducted the following activities:

  • Conducted a workshop in Kampong Cham which resulted in a technical guidance document with Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) strategies for CWD in Cambodia.
  • Produced a practical CWD Manual specifically for Cambodian frontline workers.
  • Technical support for Damnok Toek and Children in Families.

ISS Australia has also developed a formal partnership (MoU) with Feeding and Nutrition experts the SPOON Foundation from Portland, Oregon

ISS Australia remains committed to improving the lives of CWD in Cambodia and hopes to extend this important project into other Asian and Pacific countries in the years to come.

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Other projects

ISS Australia has significant expertise in intercountry adoption and has a long history providing cross border family and adoption tracing and reunification services.

ISS Australia is delighted to launch The Colour of Time: A Longitudinal Exploration of the Impact of Intercountry Adoption in Australia.