International Day of Persons with Disabilities commemoration | Western Cape Government

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities commemoration

3 December 2021

Friday, 3 December 2021, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and is also celebrated as National Disability Rights Awareness Day.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) (2021), more than 1 billion people experience some form of disability. This figure is predicted to rise due to population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases. Despite this, few countries have adequate mechanisms to respond fully to the health priorities and requirements of persons with disabilities.

"People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and neglected people in South Africa. Many of these individuals face economic and social barriers that adversely affect their physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. 

"We need to welcome persons with disabilities into our lives, and teach communities how to assist in providing equal opportunities for them, and to appreciate the abilities and possibilities of persons with disabilities. One of the best ways to better understand and accept persons with disabilities is to involve both persons with and without disabilities in shared community activities, fostering inclusion," said the Western Cape Minister for Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.

"I encourage the public to get involved by participating in advocacy and awareness programmes that promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities," added Minister Fernandez.

For the financial year under review, R187 million for developmental social welfare services for persons with disabilities, their families and caregivers. This reflects a nearly 400% increase in our budget for persons with disabilities over the past ten years (R 45 million was budgeted for Disabilities in 2011).

With the support of its Non-Profit Organization (NPO) partners, the Department renders services to over 91 000 persons with disabilities (as per our verified data of 2019/20) in the Western Cape and currently funds 220 NGOs.

Services rendered by the Department and its NPO partners include:

· Disability awareness and educational programmes,

· Developmental supportive and therapeutic services (social work interventions): counselling, support group programmes, daycare programmes for adults and children with disabilities,

· Support programmes for families/caregivers,

· Protective workshops services and residential care services.

Residential care services:

The department provides funding to 39 residential care facilities that offer specialized care options for 1673 persons with disabilities. Of the 39 funded residential facilities - 5 facilities offer specialized care for children with severe to profound intellectual disabilities. 

Residential care facilities are established communities that offer various levels of care, support and guidance for residents. These facilities encourage their residents to grow and live a life of value. Furthermore, all residents are encouraged to decide what they wish to accomplish but are done so under the supervision of dedicated staff and their respective family members.

Social Work Services:

· Awareness and educational programmes on disability issues.

· Provision of social work services: counselling services, trauma debriefings.

· Peer support programmes.

· Family/parental support programmes.

· Empowerment programmes for persons with disabilities: Life skills programmes, programmes enhancing positive self-image, self-perception.

Protective Workshop Services:

The Department funds several workshops for persons with disabilities. In light of the current Covid19 pandemic- the department developed and implemented service continuity plans in case the workforce is reduced or new workers are recruited in consultation with persons with disabilities, their families and other local disability and caregiver agencies.

Daycare centres: 

NPOs manage Centres to provide day-time supervised care, stimulation, structured programmes and activities. 

The Department also subsidizes the salaries of carers and programme implementers and the safe transportation of children with severe and profound intellectual disability at 44-day care centres.

"Government sets the policy, and civil society does the grassroots work around implementing projects that promote inclusion. It's also the responsibility of civil society to hold government accountable. This honest partnership is critical in progressing so that real progress can be made through analyzing challenges, recognizing things that move us forward and assessing how we can all do better," concluded Minister Fernandez.

For more information contact:

For the contact details on residential care facilitates run by the Department's partners, please see the link below:

Any persons interested in finding out more information about the services we offer those persons with disabilities can contact our department by calling 0800 220 250, to be directed to your nearest local DSD office.

For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department's Website below:

Media Enquiries: 

Joshua Covenant Chigome

Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez