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Australian Youth Delegation Daily Report - Monday 9 June 2014
Conference of State Parties (COSP) in New York
  Wednesday 11 June 2014
Dear ,

Today, the Australian Non- Government Youth Delegation led by mentors, Ms Therese Sands, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) and Ms Rosemary Kayess, Australian Centre for Disability Law (ACDL) took part in the 2014 Civil Society Forum (CSF) at the United Nations (UN).

Seen as an important part of the discussions surrounding the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), this 2014 CSF provided a great opportunity for civil society to reflect on how far we’ve come before heading into a new era in disability reform.

Waking up to a classic New York day the delegation got absolutely soaked while travelling between their respective hotels and the UN building.  The weather didn’t dampen our spirits as we soon began to connect with various representatives from global peak civil society organisations.
  IMAGE: Back row, left to right: Jennifer Rowallan (Desiree’s support person), Joel Wilson, Front row, left to right: Desiree Johnston, Bonnie Millen.
IMAGE: Back row, left to right: Jennifer Rowallan (Desiree’s support person), Joel Wilson, Front row, left to right: Desiree Johnston, Bonnie Millen.
Formalities began with an address from the outgoing chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), Yannis Vardakastanis.  He was then followed by officials from the Republic of Korea and the United Nations Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility. 

Session 1 began with statements on the conclusions from the open working group on the post-2015 agenda. The post-2015 agenda focuses on the work that has been taking place to identify actions to eradicate poverty. It was clear at the conclusion of each speaker’s presentation that the priority to ensure the inclusion of persons with disability is being strongly presented throughout the post-2015 agenda

Session 2 focused on aligning national, regional and global conversations to advance the principles in the CRPD.  One of the quotes that resonated was “act locally, think globally”, stressing the importance of working within your own context, but keeping in mind progress on a global scale.

At this point of the day, the youth delegates had the option to stay at the CSF events or to participate in a youth training program on Media and Social Media being conducted by UNICEF.

Training at UNICEF was an opportunity for delegates to be part of a forum of young people from around 20 countries.  The Media Training gave participants practical strategies on how to deal with the media and do a great interview.  The Social media aspect focused on how the latter can be effectively used to advance a campaign and increase the participation of young people from across the world.

Back in the UN building the theme from Session 3 was around building alliances with vulnerable groups within society, including women, children, youth, ageing and indigenous persons.  One of the key messages that struck the delegation was: when considering the inclusion of youth in discussions relating to the CRPD we need to work as one voice to be taken seriously within the wider community, we need to share resources, and we need to learn from our weaknesses as we progress through our journey.

In the last session, delegates were reminded that in the lead up to the adoption of the post-2015 agenda, civil society needs to continue to work together to strengthen the goals through inclusion of people with disability.  They were also reminded that our success will be determined by the commitment of different governments in different countries to the post-2015 agenda.

To finish off the day, the delegates were invited to a reception to farewell the outgoing Chair of IDA, Yannis Vardakastanis and welcome the new Chair, Maryanne Diamond, a well known Australian disability rights advocate. Hosted by the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN, the reception was an opportunity for delegates to network with representatives from all over the world. 

The Australian Non-government Youth Delegation learnt a lot over the course of the day. Below is a list of some of the key learnings that came out of the 2014 Civil Society Forum. 
  • Ensure references to people with disability are not diluted in later drafts of the post-2015 agenda;
  • Continued participation and engagement of civil society;
  • Importance of regional strategies and information sharing to implement the post-2015 agenda;
  • Importance of including youth with disability in decision-making and processes regarding the post-2015 agenda.
Brendan Pearce
Ace Boncato
on behalf of the Australian Non-Government Youth Delegation
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