Australia Awardee – changing the mindset towards people with disability in the Seychelles

A 2015 recipient of an Australia Awards Scholarship to study a Master of Disability Policy and Practice at Flinders University in Australia Mrs Melina Amédée, a speech pathologist from the Seychelles, hopes to be a positive agent of change on her return.

Speaking on International Day of People with Disability, Mrs. Amédée outlined her passion to see her country address the issues and constraints faced by people with disability.

“As a speech pathologist at the main hospital in the Seychelles, I work with people with disability on a daily basis so I am constantly exposed to what they face, which is how I developed an interest in this area,” Mrs Amédée said.

“In the Seychelles there is definitely a lack of trained expertise in the area of disability-inclusion, specifically to ensure that people with disability have the same right, opportunities and quality of service as their able peers. On completion of my Award, I want to be the person who comes back to my country, to bring forth additional knowledge and skills and promote inclusivity; be an agent of positive change.”

Mrs Amédée said she felt blessed to be awarded an opportunity to study in Australia; one of the few countries in the world she believes is working hard towards disability-inclusivity.

She said disability inclusion and, more broadly, social inclusion, was still a new concept in the Seychelles but that the Government had recently approved an inclusive education policy, which she had input into. The policy is yet to be legislated.

“As the world’s population grows, the number of people with disabilities increases, hence it is pivotal that we strongly consider social inclusion policies and practices, and as Awardees we should take what we learn in Australia and implement these in our communities and countries on our return” commented Mrs Amédée.

She further added that “when given the appropriate support, and when necessary modifications are made to their environments, people with disabilities are able to show their potentials and contribute immensely, and sometimes they perform better than their able counterparts. It is time to change our mindset about people with disabilities.”

Wednesday, December 3 marks International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) – a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to increase public awareness, understanding and inclusion of people with disability and to celebrate their achievements.

The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996. For more information on how the Government empowers people with disability through its aid program in Africa, including in its Australia Awards, click here

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