27 Apr 2016

A tour de force of inspiration for the disabled community

Born in Batusangkar, West Sumatra, Eva Rahmi Kasim had always wanted to become a diplomat while growing up. The 2008 recipient of the Australian Alumni Award in the Inspiration Award category further reminisced, "My parents – my mother, a school teacher and my father, a social worker – instilled in me a love for history.”

Growing up with a disability – Eva relies on crutches for mobility – did not deter her. After graduating from high school in Jakarta, Eva went on to study at the Faculty of Social and Politics Science, Universitas Indonesia, majoring in public administration.

Eva applied for an Scholarship under the Australia Awards scheme because she wanted to gain experience by studying abroad and to have the opportunity to improve her communications skills.

Later, at Deakin University, she was impressed with the thoroughness and commitment of her lecturers. “The atmosphere for learning was wonderful, and it was such a friendly environment, especially for a disabled foreign student like me,” Eva recalled. "I wanted to give back, and during the duration of my studies in Australia, I had the opportunity to join a local social organisation, Do CARE, as voluntary worker at a retirement village."

Having achieved her Master of Disability from Deakin University in 1999, Eva aims to use her new skills to extend relationship between Indonesia and Australia by working together in the disabilities area.

To further this cause, Eva continued to expand on her knowledge and has been awarded grants to attend seminar and conferences abroad from organisations including the Rehabilitation International Organization, Global Forum Health Research, Disabled People International and UN-ESCAP.

“I gained a lot from my graduate program and experience, but it is not always easy to transfer such skills to other colleagues," she said. This has not dissuaded her. Eva tenaciously keeps fighting to raise awareness in the area of disability.

Currently a Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Eva previously served  within the Directorate General for Social Services and Rehabilitation as well as Secretary General of the Indonesian Federation of Physically Handicapped and  National Board Member of the Indonesian Association of Disabled Persons and the Indonesian Association of Women with Disabilities. Eva is also a guest lecturer at the School of Social Works at Universitas Indonesia. In this role, she provides education and advice for future generations of Indonesians who will carry on the work of improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Australian Government views Eva as an inspiring role model for Indonesians, an inspiring figure who has undertaken important work to improve the lives of people with disabilities, both in Indonesia and overseas, and is very active in a number of voluntary organisations within the field of disabilities.

As a successful graduate with disabilities working at the Ministry of Social Affairs in Jakarta, Eva wants to use her positive experiences to encourage other people with disabilities to apply for an Australia Award scholarship.

Eva advises potential scholars to be sure to prepare for a very new and different environment and culture and that the subjects they will be studying suit their career aspirations, something that she herself has definitely carried out – Eva has managed and continues to push for better support system for Indonesians with disabilities, and in so doing, inspired countless of others to do the same.

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