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12 Weeks with Gender and Disability in Adelaide

Adelaide - In this 3 months fellowship program, we did many various activities. There are Intensive Training, Field visits, Guest Speaker, and Mentoring sessions, Leadership networking sessions, writing policy brief sessions, Action Plans sessions, Symposium, and some Social activities. Those activities relate to each other and generally improve my leadership skills and knowledge regarding gender and disabilities.

The first main activity is Intensive training. This activity held several trainings like Responsive Action against Domestic Violence, Child Safe Environments, Disability Awareness Training, and Gender Analysis toolkit. Some of them were running for 3, 2, or 1 full day. Like other training, it not only give me a lecture, but also some practical activities and assignments. Also, all trainers gave the materials interactively, so it made me easier to understand the core points. It was very impressive  that the Gender Consortium included people with disabilities as trainers.  This means they practice what they preach and it is not just lip service to token inclusion but in fact genuine.

Secondly, we also done some Field visits to several places related to gender and disabilities issue. They could be an organization, service provider, or community activity like Women legal services, Royal Society for the Blinds, Disability SA, Disability Information and Resource Center, Victim Support Service, Independent Living Center, Minda, Tuti, and so on. Generally, we went in group by walk or accessible taxi-bus to those places, and see their activities and interact directly with them. At the end of the section, there was a person in charge in those places who will give us more explanation and answer all questions that came up in our mind. Also, this activity gives us more real experience than browsing them through media.

Another activity is guest speakers. During our class at Flinders, there were some people who came to our room and share their knowledge and experience to us. They came from different backgrounds but still related to gender and disability issues. Some of them were so inspiring like Trevor Harrison and Margie Charlesworth (both of them are people with disability). We can take so many lessons from them to be applied in our circumstances.

Moreover, we also have Mentoring sessions. There are 16 participants and we are divided into 5 groups with one mentor each. During the 3 months fellowship, we have 3 times mentoring section which held either in our apartment or the mentor’s house. This was a good opportunity to have deep discussion about leadership and other attractive issues. Also, the mentor helped us to understand our course better, and being our “family” while we are in Adelaide.

However, we also have some section beyond the 9am to 5pm time called Leadership networking sessions. This activity allowed us to come and participate some events like Civic Reception, keynote speech, or discussion, and meet new people to build good network. We were encouraged to make as many network contacts as possible because it can be useful to us in the future.

Also, we must make policy brief paper as one of goals in our courses. This Policy Brief paper reflects our understanding to gender and disability issues by writing down some brief and recommendation four our home-country. Also, several section about Policy Brief drafting gave some of us who never been at policy making a new experience to create policy brief, and sharper technique to propose a policy brief for those who familiar with this matter.

Beside the Policy Brief Paper, we also must create individual Action Plan. This action plan was aimed to implement in our work place. To guide us creating this one, we got some sessions how to make good action plan. It is important that our action plan should be Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Timely.

The ultimate moment to show our course learning is the symposium. On that event, we must represent our Policy Brief Paper and answering some questions from the large audience. This session was really good for us to be responsible with our ideas and recommendation before we give them to targeted institution. Also, it gives the public a chance to challenge our paper, in the same time, give extra input for us.

Last but not least, we also have Social activities in weekend time. This activity give us good time to know other participants, share experience, build networking, or just having fun together. Overall, it gave us good feeling during our courses in Adelaide just like an energizer.(DPM)

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