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Minister joins autism awareness forum

Izah Azahari

Online platforms enable students to continue their learning activities while also encourage active participation from their families.

This was said by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin in his speech during the virtual World Autism Awareness Day 2022 Forum yesterday.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) is proud that the Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei continues working hard to ensure the students receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

The minister noted that 98 per cent of students have received two doses of the vaccine and 80 per cent have received their booster dose. Recently, 20 students aged five to 11 have also received one dose, setting an example for other organisations.

Earlier, Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said it is undeniable that many students with autism were affected by the pandemic which caused disruptions to physical routines, services and support that they relied on. However, SMARTER Brunei adapted quickly with the help of other organisations.

The minister also highlighted recent milestones of inclusiveness for people with different abilities such as two laws raising awareness and strengthening care for the differently abled and the introduction of sign language on Berita Perdana.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin. PHOTOS: IZAH AZAHARI
The minister and participants at the online forum

“These achievements are testament to the impacts of SMARTER Brunei, other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the government during these challenging times. Most of all, they are reminders of the importance of ensuring no one is left behind in our journey towards recovery,” said Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan.

The minister said the forum’s theme, ‘Empowering Inclusion in the Endemic Phase’, is appropriate for the current times as it is crucial to have a truly caring and resilient post-pandemic future that recognises the contributions of all people, including individuals with autism, and one where everyone is able to fully participate in all aspects of society in line with the goals of the Care Economy under ASEAN, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Brunei Vision 2035.

“As we mark World Autism Awareness Day 2022, let us reflect on how recovery from COVID-19 can be maximised as an opportunity to re-imagine our society and support systems to make inclusion and equity a reality,” said Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan who also called for everyone to reflect on the question of how we can ensure the voices of individuals with autism are not only heard but also acted on.

“In line with the Action Plan for Differently-Abled Individuals, we must include people with autism as integral players in building a better post-pandemic future,” he added.

The minister also expressed hope that practical solutions will be found through conversations and empowering people with autism by placing them at the centre of these initiatives.

“As shared by the late Malai Haji Abdullah, all our efforts must be based on the three A’s: awareness be followed with action to move towards acceptance. Insya Allah, it is our intention that the discussions and idea-sharing in this session will not end here, but continue to inform our decisions by making changes and contributions in our community,” he added.

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said that while much progress has been made, there is still more to be done.

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