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Minister Dr Svetlik attended the Conference on Ageing and Disability – Promoting the Human Rights of the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities

Portorož, 27 October – The two-day European conference Ageing and Disability – Promoting the Human Rights of the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities concluded today in Portorož. The conference was intended to promote expert discussion on effective methods of protecting the human rights of the elderly and persons with disabilities, and to foster the implementation of the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan. The event was organised by the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs within the framework of the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The conference participants included domestic and foreign experts, representatives of the government and NGO’s, decision-makers in the disability field from the Council of Europe member and observer states, other international organisations (including organisations of persons with disabilities and organisations of and for the elderly), representatives of various Council of Europe bodies and committees, and academic circles.
The introductory address was delivered by Dr Ivan Svetlik, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, who said, “Equal opportunities for all citizens, non-discrimination, and respect for and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity are the foundations on which to build a people-friendly and inclusive society.”
Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Disability Forum and the National Council of Disabled People’s Organisations informed the Slovenian public about general services, bridging the knowledge and experience of the European Union. The situation of the elderly and persons with disabilities was presented from various aspects.
In three workshops, participants discussed the accessibility of services for the disabled, health and rehabilitation, as well as the quality of life and protection of the elderly and disabled. They reviewed the experience of European countries, exchanged best practices and set out guidelines for the future, all based on the needs of individuals with various physical and psychological disabilities. The participants thus wished to support Slovenian and international organisations which protect the rights of the elderly and persons with disabilities.
They expressed their belief that efforts should be made to promote political, civil and human rights and fundamental freedoms, awareness-raising among interested parties and the general public, to ensure an inclusive society, empowerment, dialogue among all those involved in policy planning and implementation, providing for the social inclusion and equal opportunities of different groups of individuals (non-discrimination) and the implementation of legal provisions in everyday life.
The participants also expressed the hope that further discussion and action would lead to relevant policy integration, with particular emphasis on the promotion of autonomy, and an independent and active life for the elderly and disabled, harmonising policies in health care and social assistance, the development of quality services, ensuring equal access to services and legal protection.
They stated that they would continue to develop programmes of community care, support informal care and group self-care (solidarity) and ensure basic service packages, while taking into account heterogeneous populations and innovative methods of financing. They drew attention to the importance of preventive action and the early detection of disease, a multidisciplinary approach to comprehensive treatment, habilitation and rehabilitation, housing policy and a barrier-free built environment, as barriers lead to the social exclusion of certain categories of people.
The participants also focused on the importance of developing the information society and access to the Internet, as well as the ability to use different types of e-content, something which is also included in European Commission guidelines and directives.


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