PROMOTING DISABILITY DEVELOPMENT IN SRI LANKA
Australian High Commission
2 December 2016
Australia promoting disability inclusive development in Sri Lanka
The United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPwD) is marked annually on 3 December.
In Sri Lanka, the Australian aid program has a strong focus on supporting people with disability and achieving inclusive development outcomes.
For example, the Australia Awards program offers scholarships on the basis of merit, transparency and equitable access. The program actively encourages people with disability to apply for a scholarship, and those awarded scholarships are provided with tailored support to allow them to live and study in Australia. The objective is to allow awardees with a disability to participate in the program with dignity and on an equal basis to other Award recipients.
Chandana Wijekoon is an Australia Awards scholar living with polio. He is currently studying a Master of Education at the University of Adelaide. Chandana recently reflected on his opportunity to study in Australia:
“For a long time I wanted to extend my knowledge of technology within education. It took me two to three years to find the right course and university to study at. It was two of my colleagues (Australia Awards alumni) that encouraged me to apply for the Australia Awards scholarship. I had never been out of Sri Lanka and didn’t think that I would ever receive such an opportunity given my disability. However I was successful and the scholarship offered me an opportunity to deepen my knowledge and to study overseas even though I was someone living with a disability.”
Australia also has a number of partnerships with disabled persons’ organisations. The Civil Society Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program has been working with organisations such as World Vision and Christian Blind Mission in Northern Province to raise awareness of the WASH needs of people with disability and to help to make these services disability inclusive.
Another program of cooperation supported by the Australian Government is a partnership between the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the Australian Human Rights Commission focused on enhancing physical access in public spaces for people with disability.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to raise awareness and promote understanding of people with disabilities and encourage support for their human rights, dignity and well-being.
This year’s theme for IDPwD, ‘Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want’, draws attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and how these goals can create more inclusive and equitable communities for persons with disabilities.