Much more than symbolism

In the past, paying lip service often led to disappointment and frustration among those working in the disability sector as well as those persons with a disability and their families

There may be, among some people, the wrong perception that awards of any kind are merely an act of symbolism. Not when they are motivated by a strong desire to express and consolidate a commitment – precisely the overlying factor of the annual Premju Soċjetà Ġusta through which Government seeks to acknowledge the dedication and commitment to inclusion of individuals, voluntary organisations and workplaces in the disability sector.

We have just launched this year’s edition of Premju Soċjetà Ġusta and in December, during the week dedicated to Disability, seven different awards are aimed not at collecting trophies or souvenirs but at instilling a spirit of dedication and steadfastness to issues that modern society takes too much for granted. Recognition of one’s merits goes a long way towards encouraging others within and without the sector to join in this ever-growing manifestation of our will to make of inclusion, rights and support to all citizens with a disability the focus of all our efforts and ambitions.

In the past, paying lip service often led to disappointment and frustration among those working in the disability sector as well as those persons with a disability and their families. We are proud of the fact we have done a lot more than that and of the achievements as well as the ongoing process of changing and updating societal views to make of Maltese society a better platform for reform in a sector that has to meet daily challenges in the face of a residue of laissez-faire and an unfair disregard to the issue of personal and collective rights.

Premju Soċjetà Ġusta spotlights the road we have covered so far as well as the road ahead. While we find time to look back, there is everything to look forward to. Our appreciation of the tremendous work a good number of individuals, voluntary organisations and workplaces do in the disability sector is displayed through these awards as week after week, we seek to encourage even more commitment to serve as an inspiration for others to come up with new initiatives and innovations. We may live in a throbbing society that is moving forward economically and infrastructurally, but without shedding its social responsibility to help those who can play their part too, if and when given the opportunity based on the noble sentiment of inclusion.

The creation of a just society does not happen overnight by the use of a magic wand, but by a sustained level of sheer determination and the coordination of all forces within a vibrant sector. We know and we can see the progress that has been made, serving as a unique catalyst to greater involvement by all sectors of Maltese society. In return, a just society invigorates persons with a disability to play an active part, particularly within the various communities of our towns and villages. It really means doing away with stereotypes forever.

We have the words of Jacob Cachia, winner of last year’s Premju Soċjetà Ġusta, who said that what has been achieved in the past few years has helped him to live in an inclusive society and today he is, despite his disability, contributing to that same society as an equal citizen.

There are many others like Jacob who have taken cue from the Government’s drive to create a just society by introducing rights, embedding the principle of inclusion everywhere and establishing equity as the backbone of our nation. Government is rightly obliged to show its appreciation towards those who strive to ensure an inclusive society where persons with a disability and their significant others experience accessibility and independent living conditions.

Come December, the Premju Soċjetà Ġusta ceremony will offer a timely exposition of those very aims we still seek to achieve for a more just and inclusive society.