Reflecting on the inclusive practices of Australia Awards to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
In keeping with a commitment to empower future leaders, Australia Awards continues to encourage people with disability to apply for Australia Awards Scholarships and Short Courses. Since 2013, Australia Awards has supported 27 people with disability from South and West Asia through Scholarships, Short Courses and professional development opportunities.
At the recent Australia Awards Scholars Forum in Canberra, Rajuna Singh, a Scholarship recipient from Nepal, shared her positive experiences regarding living and studying in Australia, highlighting the opportunities that have opened up to her thanks to Australia Awards. Meanwhile, a sign language interpreter was engaged in Bhutan to interview a candidate who is hard of hearing. Yeshi Gyeltshen subsequently received an Australia Awards Scholarship and is expected to commence his Masters in 2019 at the University of Melbourne, specialising in Deaf Education.
Three Australia Awards scholars from the region were featured by CBM Australia in their campaign to mark International Day of People with Disabilities ‘Don’t Underestimate Me.’ In the video, Dr Samitha Samanmalee (Sri Lanka), Nupur Nurunnahar (Bangladesh) and Md Jahidul Islam (Bangladesh) talked about breaking barriers and demonstrated that disabilities cannot stop them from achieving success.
During the launch of the #MyInspiration Campaign by Australia Awards in Pakistan, Asqa Ali spoke about what inspires her and the changes she wishes to drive in Pakistan. As an outcome of the Regional Alumni Workshop 2016 under the theme ‘Education for all’, alumni published journal articles in a special edition of the International Journal for Inclusive Education. Nar Bahadur Limbu shares an inspirational story regarding his work in Nepal’s disability sector. Nar also received a grant from Australia Awards as part of the regional Alumni Innovation Challenge in 2017.
Other initiatives undertaken by Australia Awards to provide a better experience for people with disability in South and West Asia include:
– developing illustrative videos to help communicate the application process to potential applicants – including those with different learning styles and abilities
– developing disability inclusion brochures designed to consider accessibility and screen reader technology, promoting Australia Awards to people with disabilities
– issuing Disability Initiative Grants in Nepal to support the initiatives of Australia Awards alumni in positively impacting and improving human rights and dignity of people with disability
– interviewing English test providers in Bangladesh to understand their policies and practices on providing reasonable adjustments to people with disability.
DFAT’s recently published Development for All: Evaluation of Progress Made in Strengthening Disability Inclusion in Australian Aid features a case study on an Australia Awards Short Course for South and West Asia regarding inclusive education (page 43, box 13). The case study highlighted how the Short Course helped broaden participant knowledge of inclusive education to improve capacity and bring about changes needed for disability inclusive education policies and practices. The participants, who were from Nepal’s Ministry of Education and its line agencies, reported that the course had helped broaden their understanding of disability.
Australia Awards support is tailored for each person with disability to help them participate on an equal basis with others. Learn more about disability support here.
A short video by CBM Australia to Mark the International Day of People with Disabilities 2018. The video features three Australia Awards scholars from South West Asia and it highlights stories of people with disability who have been underestimated and are defying low expectations. (video featured at the start of this article)
Australia Awards contribute to the long-term development needs of Australia’s partner countries in line with bilateral and regional agreements. In South and West Asia, Australia Awards are open to suitably qualified nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, through a range of modalities – including Australia Awards Scholarships, targeted Australia Awards Short Courses, Informal Learning Opportunities, and professional development and support for alumni. An important area of focus for Australia Awards is the empowerment of women and the inclusion of people with disability and individuals from disadvantaged social groups.