Report of the Legal Sub-Committee for Persons with Disabilities
Published 17th March 2009, 5:2pm
On Friday 13th March, 2009 the Legal Sub-Committee for Planning the Future for Persons with Disabilities presented Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP with a groundbreaking report on legislative reform for persons with disabilities in the Cayman Islands. This report is the first of its kind and is expected to lead the way in terms of developing legislation designed specifically for persons with disabilities.
The process began back in 2007 when the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture commissioned and established a Steering Committee for Planning the Future for Persons with Disabilities in the Cayman Islands. Through their initial work, the Steering Committee wrote a report in May 2007 which outlined in detail the few and limited provisions that existed in the Cayman Islands for persons with disabilities and the areas in which improvement was needed.
Further, the report made clear that a new and improved legal framework would be required to underpin the necessary improvements in services for persons with disabilities in Cayman. Given this need to begin a process of legislative reform, the Legal Sub-Committee for Persons with Disabilities was formed in January, 2008, comprising health service providers, technical and medical professionals in the field of disabilities and persons whose lives had been touched in some significant way by disabilities either personally or in the form of parenting or guardianship.
On receiving the report from Mr. Brent Holt, Chair of Legal Sub-committee and Head of Student Services at the Department of Education, Hon Alden McLaughlin, Minister for Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture stated "over the past few weeks the issue of services and provisions for persons with disabilities has been widely reported in the media, and it has been inferred that little attention has been paid to their needs. The delivery of this report shows that the opposite is in fact true, and a great deal of meticulous care and attention has gone into a process that will ultimately lead to the development of a fully comprehensive piece of legislation with new provisions for a comprehensive continuum of care for all disabled persons. With that said" the Minister continued, "this report is not a social commentary. The nature of the exercise which the Legal Sub-Committee undertook was to find and document the best possible template for comprehensive legislation for persons with disabilities within the Cayman Islands. This is exactly what they have delivered and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts and dedication to completing this invaluable piece of work."
With most of the committees members present at the Legislative Assembly for the official handing over of the report, the enthusiasm and excitement was palpable. "Once this work is legislated, this comprehensive disability law will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean and for most of the world," said Brent Holt, "making the Cayman Islands Disability Law a model framework for other countries. On behalf of the entire committee, I can safely say we are pleased to have had this opportunity to positively impact the lives of persons with disabilities in the Cayman Islands. We are also delighted to learn that Minister McLaughlin is expected to lay the report in the House on Monday 16th March, which is welcome news and shows that Government views the issues surrounding persons with disabilities very seriously.
Mr. Holt went on to extend his personal thanks to the Legal Sub-committee, whose members included:
- Dr. Angella Glidden Deputy Director of Health Regulatory Services, Health Practice Commission
- Nurse Hazel Brown Chief Nursing Officer, Health Services Authority
- Mr. Kenneth Farrow Lawyer, Mourant
- Mrs. Kimberly Voaden Occupational Therapist, Department of Education Services
- Ms. Kimberly Huggins Ministry of E,T,E,Y,S&C
- Mrs. Lidia Futter Human Rights Analyst, Human Rights Committee
- Mrs. Mary Trumbach Parent of an adult with disabilities
- Mrs. Maxine Everson Special Olympics Cayman Islands
- Mrs. Mitzi Callan Parent of an adult with disabilities
- Ms. Odia Reid Government Legal Department
- Ms. Sophia Forbes Person with disabilities