Malaysia needs at least seven Independent Living Centres (ILCs) to meet the needs of over half a million disabled people in the country, said Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh.
According to Yeoh, the ILCs are essential in meeting the components needed by the disabled, namely personal assistant (PA) services, independent living services, counselling, advocacy and support services.
“There are two existing ILCs in Bangi and Petaling Jaya, operating since early this month with an allocation of RM900,000. We hope that in future, more ILCs can be set up throughout the country to help the 549,000 registered people with disabilities.
“Via the ILC, we will start training personal assistants and also people with disabilities to enable them to become more independent and be able to go out and be with other people,” she told reporters after presenting certificates to participants of the Personal Assistant For Disabled Training workshop in Kuala Lumpur today.
Commenting on personal assistant services, Yeoh explained that the pilot project was a collaboration between the Malaysia Independent Living Association for Disabled (Milad) and the Development of Persons with Disabilities Department (JPOKU).
She said the first group of 25 PAs would serve as a benchmark for the expansion of the services to those in need while also alerting the public to the importance of the service.
“More interesting, they (PAs) will receive an allowance of RM20 per hour for services rendered. For the disabled who seek the services of the PA, they only have to pay RM5 for every hour of service,” she said.
Meanwhile, Milad president Esther Lim said PAs would undergo a 20-hour training conducted by Milad and JPOKU before being referred to the disabled who require their services.
A workshop participant, Grace Wong, 26, said the workshop and the PA service was very important because society can provide the right assistance to the disabled.
“We don't know what is going to happen and maybe, it's our own family members who need this kind of service. So by becoming a PA and getting the right knowledge, I can help many people.
“I also believe that this initiative will provide new employment opportunities for many Malaysians who are interested in this field as well as make Malaysia a disability-friendly country,” she said.