On October 10, 2014 a representative of CAE Validus, project coordinator Željka Ciler, participated at the 4th Conference of Croatian Self-Advocates in Hotel Dubrovnik, Zagreb on the topic of “Independent living and inclusion in the community: respect us and be our support!”.
The Conference participants were self-advocates from 15 local associations and groups of self-advocates – members of the Croatian Self-Advocates Network, along with representatives of the relevant ministries and government institutions.
The self-advocates’ message clearly emphasized the importance of independent living as their basic human right. Furthermore, government institutions have to work on implementing Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ensuring regular education and employment as a prerequisite for independent life in the community for people with disabilities.
CAE Validus was invited by the organizers – the Association for Self-Advocacy – and attended the Conference to support people with intellectual disabilities/self-advocates, who already live in the community, to speak out about their experiences, aspirations and needs; and to contribute to the quality of the process of transformation and deinstitutionalization implemented in Croatia.
The process of deinstitutionalization, i.e. moving persons with disabilities from institutions to supported housing in the community is a good way of respecting their right for independence and inclusion. However, the process also requires other prerequisites to be met, from providing persons with personal assistants, employment opportunities and education. CAE Validus, being one of the stakeholders in this process, shares new skills and professional competence to future personal assistants for people with intellectual disabilities in formal and informal education programs with the purpose of achieving the ultimate goal – a happy, content and fulfilled life in the community with adequate support for people with intellectual disabilities.