Australia Awards in Indonesia

The Australia Awards are prestigious, transformational scholarships and short courses offered to emerging leaders for study, research and professional development in Australia

29 Apr 2016

Meet Australia Awards Indonesia Short-Term Awardees Improving The Lives of People with Disabilities

Meet Australia Awards Indonesia Short Term Awardees Improving the Lives of People with Disabilities

The tireless efforts of advocates who have dedicated their lives in promoting and understanding people with disabilities and encourage them for their dignity, rights and well-beings are recognised and supported by Australia Awards Indonesia.

A sterling group of 21 individuals from across Indonesia have been selected to participate in a short course on Organisational Leadership and Management Practices for Disabled People’s Organisations in Sydney on 15-30 January 2016. The course, facilitated by the Sydney Southeast Asia Center at the University of Sydney, aims to build confidence and capacities of emerging leaders in the disability fields to enable them to advocate effectively for the respect of the rights of people with disabilities, and to have improved ability in leadership in the face of social inclusion barriers, as well as to improve organisational development and management.

Prior to their study, the recipients attended a pre-award workshop, which was held on 2-4 December 2015 in Jakarta. Here are the highlights of these commendable individuals and a glimpse of their dedication in improving the lives of people with disabilities:

I Nengah Latra
Founder and Director Puspadi Bali Foundation

At age 19 years old, I Nengah Latra, son of Balinese farmer, had his heart set on a career to be a policeman. But a tragic accident left his dreams shattered. During a cremation ceremony, he opened the kerosene lighting and tried to adjust the wick. The lamp exploded and left his arm seriously burned and fused to the torso.

“For two years my family isolated me because disability was seen as past sin and my self-anger hid myself from the world,” said Latra. His dream to join police force and break free from poverty was gone and he withdrew himself from the outside world.

A disabled fellow who is also a field worker from Yogyakarta rehabilitation center found Latra in his home and suggested him to move to the Central Java city for training. He resisted for months, but eventually he took the opportunity that turned his life around. In Yogyakarta, he met a group of extraordinary people who were in far worse situations, yet they were happy and productive.

After undergoing a plastic surgery that gave him the use of his arms and hands, Latra’s self-pity and fear weakened and since then he got his life back in track.

Today, his organization, Puspadi Bali, provides access to rehabilitation, education, prosthetics and employment training. One of the approaches is wheelchair program and manufacture for people with disabilities, providing services to 3,500 clients.

“I want to use this tremendous opportunity to help Puspadi become a role model of disabled people’s organisations,” said Latra, referring to the short course he will be attending early next year.

Field staff at the foundation also travel to the farthest of the Bali island to actively search people with disability hidden away in remote villages and to support and educate the families that disabilities are not karma as regarded by the culture. Last year, the foundation recorded 3,281 home visits.

Puspadi Bali Foundation has received numerous achievements including Indonesian Social Foundation of The Year in 2014 and received the prestigious Tri Hita Karana Award, Gold Medal in Social Foundation in 2015 and 2014.

Rini Rindawati
SAPDA (Center of Advocacy for Disabled Women and Children)
Central Java

Rini Rindawati is unstoppable force. The core issue that drives her work has remained the same in decades, to fight violence against women and children with disability.

“They are more vulnerable to violence and other human rights abuses,” said Rini.  Sexual attacks in Central Java where Rini works have been recorded to children particularly with down syndrome as young as 16 years old.

Perpetrators of abuse against disabled women and children include family members, partners, caregivers, and peers and the range of abuse is staggering. There is much work to be done on protection and most of all justice of these abuses, as well as trauma healing for the victims, said Rini.

The 45-year-old Rini, whose legs are atrophied from polio, hopes to learn new skills at the short course that would strengthen her advocacy adeptness. Rini works at Advocacy Center for Disabled Women and Children in Bantul, Yogyakarta Special Province.

Lindawati Kwa
Pertuni (Indonesian Blind Union)
Medan, North Sumatra

Lindawati Kwa is determined to help children who have low vision stay in school as many of them receive the wrong treatment.

“We can’t apply the same treatment to children who are visually impaired with those who are legally blind, it’s not the same thing. By giving them the right tools, they too could follow their studies perfectly,” said Lindawati.

She has also been managing a low vision care program including eyes assessment, cataract surgeries to Gloucoma laser. The next step she plans to collect data from lower to higher education institutions next year. She intends to bring the survey results to the government level in order to put proper policies that meet the needs of all visually impaired persons.

Lindawati, who is legally blind, noted the task is an uphill battle due to lack of human resources and inadequate knowledge As the provincial secretary of the Indonesian Blind Union chapter of North Sumatra in Medan, Lindawati Kwa is managing 17 branches in the province and only four of them are capable in data management. The short course is timely for her to empower and transfer knowledge to her colleagues that would be used in the crucial survey in 2016.

“We have to keep motivating ourselves, who else is going to do it? We have to be certain as a person with disability we are perfectly capable of building good lives for ourselves when they are given equal access,” said Lindawati.

Chairperson of Mitra Sejahtera
Gunung Kidul, Central Java

Hardiyo, 49-year-old man from Gunung Kidul, started with 27 people under the one disabled person’s organisation (DPO) called Mitra Sejahtera back in 2012. Now, he oversees 260 people of seven DPOs in six districts in Central Java under one alliance called Communications Forum of Gunung Kidul’s Disability.  The main focus of the forum is economic empowerment and entrepreneurship to people with disabilities including vocational trainings and microcredits.

Gunung Kidul regency has a challenging landscape and is considered to be one of the poorest areas in the country due to water shortages, lack of access to education and basic services. These challenges did not deter Hardiyo nor prevent him from scaling new heights in the future. He was introduced to computers and the world of Internet only four years ago when he began to take charges. His spirit and dedication was infectious to the surrounding community.

“As we are growing extensively, we need to think about sustainability of our program and continue to be an independent organisation and to ensure rights of people with disabilities and social inclusion are fulfilled and this course will strengthen my skills,” said Hardiyo, who is paraplegic from waist lower and uses a wheelchair.

“In the whole Gunung Kidul alone, there are 8,600 people with disabilities and we aim to engage and help them in any way under the alliance,” said Hardiyo.

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