Callan Services - Papua New Guinea

Callan Services in Papua New Guinea provides Education, Health and Community Based Rehabilitation Services for People with Disabilities.

To build an inclusive society where people with disabilities are welcomed and can participate in education, work & community life.

Callan was the birthplace of Edmund Rice, the Irish business man who founded the Christian Brothers in Ireland in 1802.

Callan Services for people with disabilities was established by the Christian Brothers in Papua New Guinea in 1991, when Br Graeme Leach pioneered the service in Wewak on the north-west coast of Papua New Guinea for the education of children with disabilities. This was done in collaboration with the Catholic Diocese of Wewak and eventually under government legislation this became known as Callan Special Education Resource Centre (SERC) Wewak. Subsequently, this model was replicated with other Catholic Dioceses and also other sponsoring organisations across the country, with whom Callan Services works in partnership. There are now 19 Callan Special Education, Resource Centres (SERCs) across Papua New Guinea – Aitape, Alotau, Buka, Daru, Gerehu (in Port Moresby), Goroka, Kavieng, Kimbe, Kiunga, Lorengau, Madang, Mendi, Mingendi, Morobe, Mt Hagen, Rabaul, Vanimo, Wabag and Wewak. Many of these Centres have also developed sub-centres.

This development created the need for an agency to support, build capacity and monitor standards and so, by the close of the 1990’s, what is now known as Callan Services National Unit (CSNU) had emerged, which is owned and operated by the Christian Brothers, Oceania Province. CSNU national office, now under the leadership of Br Kevin Ryan, is located in Wewak, East Sepik Province. The putting in place of Memorandums of Agreement between CSNU and the Resource Centres, to ensure the quality and sustainability of services operated in the name of Callan Services, is currently in process.

CSNU has now become the major provider of health and community based rehabilitation services for people with disabilities and inclusive education for children with a disability in PNG. During 2011, approximately 6,100 students participated in CSNU programs. The agency promotes training and the development of quality services so that people with disabilities generally, and particularly children, are given opportunity to live life to the full.

Centre staff visit schools, larger towns and remote villages. Initial contact focuses on awareness raising about disability issues such as eye and ear impairments and physical and learning disabilities. Education is provided about the causes of disability and preventative measures, such as the avoidance of dangerous behaviours and the importance of treatment for eye and ear infections and to show that with appropriate support, people with a disability can participate in education, work and community life.

Screening is undertaken to ascertain the presence of any disabilities in these communities. Referrals are provided for medications or medical treatment such as cataract operations and the provision of aids to assist with reading and mobility. Children and families are assisted with transition and integration into schooling and access to vocational training and employment.

There is also the delivery of Community Based Rehabilitation and physiotherapy services for those with physical disabilities. CSNU, in delivering these direct services, aims to build the capacity of those in Callan SERC’s across the country to take over these services and continue them into the future.

Pictured below is Br Cosmas Manau, who has transcribed into braille, text books and lesson materials for visually impaired students at Sacred Heart School, Goroka. Br Cosmas also assists teachers with guidance and teaching strategies that enable visually impaired students to be integrated into regular classrooms.

Callan Services Mental Health Programs are part of CSNU’s focus on building an inclusive society where people with disabilities are welcomed and can participate in education, work and community life. Pictured below, centre, is Sr Lorna (Franciscan Sister), co-ordinator of Callan Services Mental Health Programs throughout PNG. These programs enable persons living with mental health issues to live full and productive lives in their communities. Here, Sr Lorna is on one of her supervisory visits to Callan Services Goroka Unit.

Callan Services National Unit (CSNU) through its Callan Studies National Institute (CSNI) is involved in the capacity building of teachers and Community Based Rehabilitation/Healthworkers through workshops, Certificate courses, an Applied Diploma in Special Education, a Bachelor of Special Education Degree and a Masters Program in Special Education. The degree courses are accredited through Divine Word University, the Applied Diploma though the Teacher Education Board of Studies and the Certificate Courses will soon be more fully accredited through the National Training Council. In 2011, Edmund Rice Foundation support enabled the provision of professional development scholarships for CSNU staff undertaking Bachelor and Masters Programs in Special Education (Hearing Impairment), Medical Science (Vision Sciences) and Higher Level Eye Skills Training.

Teachers, health workers and other community based workers are trained in basic screening for ear and eye difficulties, prevention education and referral for further health care, and also the provision of spectacles through Callan Optical Services.

Other professional development opportunities include: deaf educators' conference; low vision workshops; advanced eye skills training; research into the educational needs of young people with vision impairment; exploration of strategies to support people with disabilities seeking employment and establishing livelihood projects and investigating approaches to early intervention for children with disabilities.

Having key leaders within CSNU complete Masters level studies is significant for the future self-sustainability of Inclusive Education within Papua New Guinea. Having practicing CSNU Special Education Resource Centre teachers completing Bachelors programs and able to apply their knowledge, skills and attitudes in Inclusive Education in their work settings will enhance the integration of children with disabilities into the education and training facilities of the country. Having a fully qualified PNG optometrist committed to responding to the needs of people in remote areas and to training others will have a significant impact on the future service provided to those with low vision, refraction problems and eye disease and to those with preventable vision problems, especially children.

CSNU is committed to the care, safety and protection of all children who access its services and CSNU seeks to be a model of Best Practice in child protection standards for children with a disability in PNG.

CSNU has worked with Dr Pauline Meemeduma, an Australian child protection specialist, to develop and implement a child protection capacity building strategic plan for all the services in the CSNU Network. Dr Meemeduma has over 30 years’ experience as a social worker in child protection in Australia, the United States, UK and Singapore as well as in several developing countries in the Asia-Pacific and Africa regions. She is currently Associate Professor of Social Work at Murdoch University in Western Australia and an international child protection consultant for UNICEF.

In collaboration with representatives of the Services in the CSNU Network, Dr Meemeduma developed a five-day Foundational Child Protection Workshop for all staff and volunteers. Also being developed is a Train the Trainer Program to enable PNG staff to conduct future foundational training and specialist child maltreatment reporting and investigation and a children’s services leadership training program for CSNU staff. These training manuals in electronic and hardcopy will be available in both Tok Pisin and English for staff and volunteers in CSNU offices throughout PNG.

During 2011, Child Protection Foundational Workshops were conducted for all staff along with capacity building for trainers for the delivery of these workshops into the future.

To learn more about Callan Services, go to the Callan Services page on the Edmund Rice Foundation (Australia) website at:
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