Melbourne welcomes Indian delegation from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Professor Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International with Joint Secretary Tarika Roy, Department of Persons with Disabilities and Consul General Mr Raj Kumar, Consul General of India, Melbourne
L-R: Consul General Mr Raj Kumar from the Consul General of India in Melbourne, University of Melbourne Deputy-Vice Chancellor International Professor Michael Wesley and Joint Secretary Ms Tarika Roy from the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. Image: supplied

Joint Secretary Tarika Roy and Under Secretary Sanjay Singh from the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPWD) in India are visiting the University of Melbourne this week to advance a number of collaborations, including a co-designed community-based disability course.

Developed in partnership with DEPWD and the University’s Nossal Institute for Global Health and Melbourne Disability Institute, the unique course is designed to train and equip locals to help them respond to the rehabilitation and inclusion needs of community members living with disability. It is currently being rolled out in India.

During their visit, the Joint Secretary and Under Secretary have participated in a roundtable with University experts in public health, disability and education, before attending an official reception dinner hosted by the University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, Professor Michael Wesley.

The University has fostered a strong partnership with DEPWD since 2017. Initiated by the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Thawar Chand Gehlot, DEPWD has invited the University of Melbourne to be an expert partner for their new national institute on mental health rehabilitation and ongoing research in this space.

Other key initiatives being announced include the development and delivery of a joint leadership training course for the heads of national disability in Australia and India, where leaders will share their expertise and discuss challenges and opportunities.

Researchers will also undertake modelling with DEPWD to develop an economic case for increased disability investment in India.

Professor Wesley welcomed the visit, acknowledging Australia and India’s mutual commitment to improving the lives and wellbeing of people with disability.

“Both Australia and India place disability at the heart of health and social policy development and have recently made significant commitments to respond to disability and promote inclusion,” Professor Wesley said.

“We are delighted to have Joint Secretary Roy and Under Secretary Singh visit Melbourne to share their learnings and expertise with us, as well as launch a number of important projects.”

Melbourne Disability Institute Director and Executive Chair, Professor Bruce Bonyhady, said: “This visit by a senior delegation from the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities provides another very important opportunity to deepen our partnership, share ideas and progress a number of key initiatives designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities, their families and carers.”

Joint Secretary Roy said: “We have an excellent partnership with the University of Melbourne and this visit will grow our collaboration and ultimately contribute to improving the situation for people with disability.”

The visit was facilitated by the University’s Melbourne Disability Institute and the Nossal Institute, in partnership with the Australia India Institute and the Australian Government.

The delegation will meet with several state and federal ministers, visit a leading specialist school in Melbourne and view accessible transport facilities at Southern Cross Station, before traveling to Canberra for further meetings.