ACCESS 2 Program

The Australia‐Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services-Phase 2 (ACCESS 2) Program marks a continuation of Australia’s flagship bilateral investment in gender equality, disability, and social inclusion in Cambodia. ACCESS 2 supports key components of Cambodia’s National Action Plan for the Prevention of Violence against Women (NAPVAW) and National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP). It provides a shared commitment to improving service delivery for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and persons with disabilities in Cambodia.

ACCESS 2 is a five year (2023- 2028), AUD 30 million program focused on improving access to quality and inclusive services for persons with disabilities and survivors of GBV in Cambodia. ACCESS 2 will continue working with national and sub-national level government and civil societies including Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs), Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), women and indigenous groups to effectively implement the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC)’s NAPVAW and NDSP to ensure that persons with disabilities and women affected by GBV have better access to the services they need.

Phase 1 of ACCESS was effective in building strong relationships; improving service delivery standards; and improving the technical capacity of GBV and disability service providers[1]. Given these strong foundations, and in the context of Cambodia’s decentralisation reform agenda, ACCESS 2 aims to lock in national-level reforms achieved under Phase 1 of the program.  It also recognises the two-way connection between national and subnational levels that is necessary for grounded policy and inclusive service delivery. This means increased sub-national level engagement to effectively operationalise strategy, policy, and technical capacity development. The effective implementation of these national-led reforms requires not only close collaboration with national, sub-national government, but also with local stakeholders and beneficiaries. Therefore, ACCESS 2 seeks to refine our activities with local NGOs, and organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) to focus on building their technical capacity, as well as supporting platforms for meaningful two-way dialogue, agreement, and collaboration with government at all levels.

ACCESS 2 will be implemented through strategic partnerships. This means fostering sectoral collaboration to build peer learning between organisations, contributing to collective impact. It also means strategy and direction-setting dialogue and coordination between RGC, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and key implementing partners.

Development Context

GBV is widespread in Cambodia and evidence suggests it escalated in the context of COVID-19.[2] One in every five women in Cambodia has experienced GBV, with prevalence estimated to be higher still among women with disabilities, women in rural areas, and indigenous women and girls.[3] Rates of violence against LGBTI people in Cambodia, where known, are reported to be extremely high, with some studies showing as many as 80 per cent experiencing some form of violence.[4] Survivors of GBV have limited access to justice, including information and referral to the full range of legal options that form part of the essential services package for survivors, as well as facing high barriers to receiving health and psychosocial support. GBV and gender equality issues are a concern for and within indigenous communities, particularly in remote areas. Provincial governments report increasing cases of sexual violence, and the incidence of early marriage remains higher among indigenous women and girls, with 55 per cent of girls married by the age of 18 compared with 39.7 per cent of Khmer girls[5].  GBV services are sparse in areas where indigenous communities reside, and there are cultural and linguistic dimensions to ensuring the accessibility, acceptability, and appropriateness of service provision.

Based on findings from the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2021-22, 24.4% (made up of 26.9% female and 21.8% male), of disability prevalence based on the population age of 5 and over.[6] While seeing and hearing are the most prevalent forms of disability, and rates are higher amongst women, [7] disability services tend to cater to physical and mobility-related disabilities and have higher uptake by men. This was exemplified by the higher registration of men with mobility-related disabilities for IDPoor cards in the wake of the COVID-19 social assistance response. The drafting of the new revised Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities and the development of NDSP II due for completion in the near future have policy implications for ACCESS 2. They offer renewed opportunity for engagement on a rights-based approach to ACCESS 2 priority service areas such as essential rehabilitation and health services and social protection. Social attitudes and traditional beliefs around disability restricts identification of and appropriate support to persons with disabilities, including indigenous community members. This obscures the full extent of the needs and barriers faced by persons with disabilities in accessing services and opportunities, including social protection support through targeted disability schemes. With a scarcity of organisations of persons with disabilities connected with indigenous communities, the challenges in identification and meeting needs are greater.

Engagement between RGC and OPDs/Women’s Rights Organisations (WROs) on the design, planning and implementation of services is critical. OPDs/WROs play a vital role in supporting persons with disabilities and survivors of GBV, including in their access to quality and integrated services that genuinely address their priorities and needs.

[2] Note: GBV and disability CDHS modules to be released in late 2022will provide updated data and insights into trends. UN Cambodia (2021) Information Note #6: UN Cambodia’s COVID-19 Response Gender Based Violence and Sexual and Reproductive Health | United Nations in Cambodia.

[3] Astbury, J., & Walji, F (2013) Triple Jeopardy: Gender-based violence and human rights violations experienced by women with disabilities in Cambodia (AusAID Research Working Paper 1). Fulu, E., Warner, X., & Moussavi, S. (2013). Men, gender and violence against women in Cambodia: Findings from a household study with men on perpetration of violence. UN Women Cambodia. See United Nations Cambodia. (2022). Gender Equality Deep Dive for Cambodia – Common Country Analysis. Phnom Penh: UN.

[4] Rainbow Community Kampuchea (2019) I married a man to satisfy my parents: Family violence towards Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBT) People in Cambodia.

[5] Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Rural Development. (2021). Cambodia’s National Report on the demographic and socioeconomic status of Indigenous peoples.

[6] Persons with disabilities in Cambodia: Finding from the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey, 2014 & 2021-22.

[7] Persons with disabilities in Cambodia: Finding from the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey, 2014 & 2021-22.

Services delivery

Essential service delivery for survivors of GBV and persons with disabilities requires significant resourcing to meet needs. The scope of services offered for disability and GBV is evolving but presently focused on physical manifestations of disability and violence, and not predicated on diversity in the backgrounds of clients.  Economic independence and livelihood options are critical for persons with disabilities and survivors of GBV. Economic opportunities are critical for pathways out of poverty. They are also vital for survivors of GBV to have the means to support themselves and their children independently. Skills development and employment services need to be provided by those deeply engaged in the private sector and with understanding of economic empowerment, so that these services are embedded in networks and approaches that can translate skills into decent jobs in the economy.

In the context of continued COVID-19 related resource constraints and declining donor funding, developing new, efficient, and effective approaches for service delivery, including approaches that address barriers to access, and supporting RGC to embed these approaches into service delivery systems is critical. One stop service centres are being piloted from health settings as a means of delivering integrated services for survivors of GBV.

Engagement between RGC and OPDs/Women’s Rights Organisations (WROs) on the design, planning and implementation of services is critical. OPDs/WROs play a vital role in supporting persons with disabilities and survivors of GBV, including in their access to quality and integrated services that genuinely address their priorities and needs.

Elevating the voice of survivors of GBV and persons with disabilities

Elevating the voice of survivors of GBV and people with disabilities, will also be central to ACCESS 2’s implementing approach. Opportunities to foster participation by persons with disabilities and survivors of GBV, including indigenous peoples, in the design, implementation and monitoring of activities will be prioritised. The expressed needs and preferences of survivors of GBV and persons with disabilities, and impacts of ACCESS 2 for these people, will be central to the program’s focus and its monitoring and evaluation. Recognising the existing involvement and unique development context of indigenous peoples under phase 1 of the ACCESS program, ACCESS 2 will develop a tailored strategic priority agreement to address the GBV and disability priorities of indigenous peoples. An increased focus on responding to the needs and priorities of indigenous peoples will ensure Australian support is inclusive and impactful for indigenous peoples, in line with Australia’s emergent Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda.

Key expected end of investment outcomes

The Goal of ACCESS 2 is: Persons with disabilities and survivors of GBV benefit from access to quality and coordinated services as outlined under RGC’s NDSP and NAPVAW.

The ACCESS 2 theory of change has been revised to reflect this shift in focus. ACCESS 2 has two end of investment outcomes (EOIO) that contribute to this goal:

  1. By 2028, select service providers deliver higher quality GBV and disability services to increasing numbers of people in the target provinces.
  2. By 2028, select national and sub-national policy and planning processes respond to the priorities of survivors of GBV and persons with disabilities.