Much more needs to be done to support people with disabilities, the President of the House of Representatives, Annita Dimitriou, said in her greeting at the event of the Association for the Welfare of Persons with Mental Disabilities (SEANA), on the theme “Right to Happiness” ; No Person Helpless”.
At the event, the President of the Parliament, as well as representatives of the Office of the Citizen's Commissioner, the Department of Social Integration and Social Welfare Services were invited to participate in a discussion about ensuring opportunities for decent living, social integration and providing opportunities for people with disabilities. The President of the Supreme Court and the Mayor of Aglantzias also attended the event.
Mrs. Dimitriou referred more specifically to how the legislation enshrines the right to happiness of people with mental disabilities, pointing out that there are a number of bills and proposals of law currently before the Parliament, which aim to strengthen the legislative framework, regarding care and state support for these people.
Referring to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, she said that it is the "gospel" on national legislation, which, as he noted, needs continuous improvement. "We want to discuss and identify weaknesses", said Mrs. Dimitriou, addressing the representatives of the agencies involved, pointing out that the laws are not static. "The matter does not only concern families that have people with disabilities, but each of us individually, because this will complete our society as it should", continued Mrs. Dimitriou, pointing out that there needs to be a horizontal and cooperation between the institutions involved , so that solutions can be found.
He then referred to bills and law proposals that are before the Parliament and explained that in the context of the legislative work in the parliamentary committees, the Parliament has the opportunity to be informed by the competent organizations and bodies around what concerns people with disabilities.
In particular, he said that at the moment pending for discussion in the Parliamentary Committee on Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance is a proposal for a law to amend the Law on Persons with Disabilities, so that persons with mental, intellectual or sensory disorders also become beneficiaries of the parking ticket.< /p>
Also, as he said, there are three proposals for a law to amend the Law on Minimum Guaranteed Income and More Generally on Social Benefits Law, so that, for a person with a disability who becomes entitled to a minimum guaranteed income, firstly, his right does not depend on his income/of the spouse or other member of the family unit, secondly, that the incomes, real estate and financial data of the members of his family unit are not taken into account and thirdly, that his disability is not distinguished as moderate, severe or total.
In addition, Mrs. Dimitriou added, a total of twelve issues are pending in the Parliamentary Committees on Health and Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, which touch, among other things, on the issues of disability assessment, housing and self-employment of people with mental disabilities. "Many steps have been taken in Cyprus, the EU is helping us in this, but we must recognize that much more needs to be done, to see how we strengthen the family unit", concluded the Speaker of the Parliament.
Taking the floor, the Director of Social Welfare Services, Maria Kyratzi, noted that the aim of the support provided is to continuously improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and to ensure that they enjoy human rights, while she placed particular emphasis on ensuring their dignity. As an important achievement, he mentioned the completion of the goal of deinstitutionalizing more than 60 people from the Panagia Eleousa Center and, subsequently, the establishment of the Irida center.
"It is a multi-thematic and modern center, a space ergonomically adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, with all services gathered under the same roof", explained Mrs. Kyratzi, adding that through this center the cooperation of the Services also developed with SEANA. He also mentioned as important the cooperation of the state services with 28 NGOs and 57 programs, through the state aid plan, noting that "through the synergy with NGOs, the state can deliver services to the population groups that need it". Finally, he said that the total amount spent on state aid is close to 13 million euros, with a percentage of about 36% going to aid people with disabilities.
The Director of the Department of Social Integration, Christina Florentzou, proceeded with a presentation of the implementation process of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, explaining that through it, “great possibilities for happiness” are opened up. of the specific individuals. He also explained that as an international convention that has been incorporated into national legislation since 2011, it prevails over many national laws and that through it, every citizen of the Republic of Cyprus acquires rights, but the state also acquires the obligation to offer what people with disabilities. "Thus our disability affects everyone", noted Mrs. Florentzou, explaining that this "is the way we contribute to their happiness".
Afterwards, Mrs. Florentzou mentioned that for the decade 2018-2028 the National Strategy for Disability was established, within the framework of which individual three-year action plans are approved, noting that the current plan includes 58 new actions and 77 continued from the previous one, the which involve 8 ministries and three deputy ministries. He added that the actions aim to ensure all the rights of people with disabilities, as provided by the UN Convention, which have to do with equality, education, health, rehabilitation, living standards, social protection , independent living and integration, participation in cultural life, entertainment and leisure and sports, participation in civic life, respect for home and family, work and employment, accessibility.
The representative of the Citizen's Commissioner's Office referred in particular to the participation of citizens in decision-making, through consultation mechanisms with various NGOs. In this context, as he said, the Strategy for Active Citizenship and Participatory Governance, which was presented on Tuesday evening at the Presidential Palace.
For his part, the President of SEANA, commemorated the contribution of the late president, Marcos Marcos, as well as of the late Minister of Labour, Zeta Emilianidou. He noted that the association's cooperation with the House of Representatives is continuous and indicated that in the next period a joint action will be organized for people with mental disabilities.