Reaffirming their commitment to ensuring that Australia Awards scholars with a disability can participate equally in program activities, the Australian Government and Palladium hosted the inaugural Roundtable on Disability Inclusion on 12 June in Pretoria.
With a total of 21 scholars with a disability on award, the Roundtable aimed to raise awareness of disability issues within the program and encourage greater participation by people with disabilities in the awards. The Roundtable will also inform the new Australia Awards Disability Inclusion Strategy, due for release in August.
The Roundtable focused on how Australia Awards can effectively engage with disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) in promoting the awards to people with disabilities.
Sebenzile Matsebula, who has been working towards advancing disability mainstreaming in Africa for the last 26 years, led a discussion on the development of disability rights in Africa. She has served as a Director of Office on the Status of Disabled Persons in the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa and as chair and board member of several organisations, including the Committee of the United Nations’ Convention for Persons with Disabilities.
Ms Matsebula’s presentation highlighted the responsibility of international bodies that engage with African governments to discuss inclusive development as a human rights issue. In this way, inclusive development can begin from a grassroots level where children with disabilities are afforded quality and accessible education.
Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat of the Africa Decade of Persons with Disabilities, Kudakwashe Dube, whose work in disability inclusion spans two decades, challenged participants in a lively discussion on the current status of disability inclusion in Africa. He stressed the importance of working with DPOs in promoting inclusive development