Alumni make positive contributions to disability sector in Timor-Leste

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Friday, June 12, 2020 - 15:00
  • Australia Awards
  • Timor-Leste

Australia Awards alumni from Timor-Leste are actively engaged in advocacy, policy implementation and service delivery in the disability sector.

The Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility has published a Case Study focusing on alumni from Timor-Leste who undertook scholarships and fellowships in Australia in the field of disability and development. The 16 alumni graduated between 2011 and 2016.

The research shows that since their return to Timor-Leste, alumni from this cohort have been at the forefront of disability inclusive development through active engagement in advocacy, national disability policy design and implementation, and allied health service delivery. Their shared experience in Australia has helped create a critical mass of professionals who are using their skills, knowledge and networks to advocate for the rights and protection of people with disability in Timor-Leste.

Four of the Case Study alumni have a disability and are working closely with government, aid agencies and civil society to improve the rights and living standards of people living with disability in Timor-Leste. For example alum Mr Joaozito dos Santos, the Executive Director and founder of the National Disabled Peoples Organisation, Ra’es Hadomi Timor Oan (RHTO), is playing a key role in shaping national policies by contributing to the drafting of the National Disability Action Plan and providing ‘technical advice to the government’ to support better integration of people with disability into all sectors of society. This includes the use of inclusive language and assessment tools to promote better access for people with disability to government subsidies, justice, livelihood opportunities and healthcare.

A combination of factors have enabled alumni to successfully apply their skills in the workplace and contribute to the development of the disability sector. These relate to a strong personal commitment to disability inclusion and positive on-award experiences, such as inclusive teaching practices, tailored academic support, professional placements and field visits within the Australian disability sector and social activities.

One of the scholarship alum collaborated with a former lecturer to develop an Australia Award fellowship program at Flinders University for key frontline workers in the disability sector in Timor-Leste. This has led to a critical mass of Australian trained alumni making large contributions to disability inclusive policy, allied health services and the rights of people with disability in Timor-Leste.

The findings of this Case Study demonstrate that this group of alumni are contributing to  disability inclusive policy, mainstreaming education, training and employment of people with disability, health services and rehabilitation, disability rights and improvement of societal attitudes within Timor-Leste.

Their Australian education and in-Australia experiences have contributed to alumni’s positive views of Australia, which have formed the basis for maintaining ongoing professional and personal links with their Australian counterparts. Through their workplaces and networks within the disability sector, alumni are helping to further cultural understanding between the two countries.

To learn more about the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility findings and to read the full report, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website: