The inspirational Ms. Mere Roden joined RCSE today in fellowship. Although Mere has been confined to a wheelchair for the last seven years, she doesn’t let much slow her down. As her assistant Eloni carried her up the stairs, owing to the Fiji Club’s lack of wheelchair access, Mere was not deterred in the least.
“Fiji may be slow to catch on, so I have to be two steps ahead,” she said, smiling.
In the last few months, Mere has been urged to tell her story at numerous venues, owing to her new position as manager of IDEA (Include Disability- Employ THIS Ability)- an Australian Aid funded project which was launched earlier this year.
IDEA aims to help people with disabilities to secure decent employment by engaging with the public and private sectors. The project is implemented by a taskforce representing five disabled people’s organisations including: the Fiji Disabled People’s Federation, Spinal Injury Association of Fiji, Fiji Association of the Deaf, Psychiatric Survivors Association, and United Blind Persons of Fiji.
According to initial surveys, said Mere, there are as many as 11,000 people living with disability in Fiji, 87% of whom are unemployed. The project will work in 6 key areas to help build support of disabled people in the work place. These are:
- Survey– identifying skills and employment potential of disabled people in Fiji
- Heroes– identifying employed persons with disabilities to serve as career mentors
- Governance– ensuring inclusiveness in national policies
- Corporate Partnership– establishing incentives and programmes to increase work opportunities for disabled people
- Education Opportunities– providing scholarships and ensuring that institutes of higher learning have disabled policies
- Media– raising community awareness
Mere in particular is in charge of helping to match capable candidates with appropriate workplace environments that are interested in employing disabled persons. As PP Warwick pointed out during the meeting, a new draft promulgation being raised in Fiji would require every employer with 50+ people to employ disabled persons. If you would like to know more about IDEA or to get in touch with Mere, please contact Molly for details.