The Australian Government is committed to implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is an important international agreement committing countries to taking steps to ensure equity and inclusion for persons with disabilities. In Sri Lanka, the Australian aid programme has a strong focus on supporting people with disability and achieving inclusive development outcomes. The program offers scholarships on the basis of merit, transparency and equitable access. It 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 an Australia Awards scholar living with polio is currently studying a Master of Education at the University of Adelaide. “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.” He said when asked about his experience with the program.