Leaders from Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) throughout Indonesia are in Sydney for the next two weeks as part of an Australia Awards short course run by the University of Sydney.
Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre Professor Michele Ford said the workshop would help to strengthen the leadership and management skills of the key disability advocacy organisations in the country.
“People with disabilities in Indonesia are 30 to 50 percent more likely to be poor than people without disabilities,” Professor Ford said.
“The challenge to bridging the poverty gap is immense. One way to start is to empower the organisations that fight for the rights of people with disabilities.
“The 24 participants at this workshop have had the opportunity to hear from inspirational leaders like Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum, former Dean of the Sydney Law School and the first totally blind person appointed to a full professorship at any Australian university. They also have a chance to interact with University of Sydney academics with research interests in disability and an impressive line-up of Australian disability activists.”
Speakers at the short-course include representatives from the University of Sydney, Vision Australia, Blackdog Institute, Sports Matters, and the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability. The participants will also have the opportunity to visit Sydney City Council, Taronga Zoo and the Sydney Cricket Ground, and watch the OZ Day 10K Wheelchair Road Race through The Rocks.
Luluk Ariyantiny, Chairperson of a disability advocacy organisation in a small town in East Java, said the opportunity to attend the workshop was a dream come true.
“There are a lot of challenges that Indonesia faces when it comes to creating an inclusive environment. Many people with disabilities don’t know their rights and the government hasn’t made buildings and services accessible to people with disabilities,” Ms Ariyantiny said.
“It was a big dream of mine to attend a course like this and I never thought it would happen. It is important for me to participate in this training because I need to manage my organisation.
“Something I really want to advocate for is access to education. In Situbondo, only 10 percent of people with disabilities have received an education. This has a big impact on their ability to find work and contribute to society.”
Something Luluk Ariyantiny is especially looking forward to experiencing while she is in Sydney is riding on an accessible bus.