By Paul McKenzie
In its third year, the Western University held a community engagement dinner for the local Indian community, to pay tribute and engage the Indian community, home and abroad, in the academic success and achievements of the Western University, with its academics and students. Out of student population of 50,000, 1,800 students comes from India and approx.. 4-5,000 students from the South Asian/Sub Continent, making up approx. 10% of the student population, the largest cultural group. The dinner attracted over 200 people from the Indian community, the “who’s who” together with NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, Dr Geoff Lee MP, NSW Minister and MP for Baulkam Hills David Elliott MP, and NSW MP for Prospect Dr Hugh McDermott.
Western Sydney University Chancellor Professor Peter Shergold AC spoke about the academic success and achievements of the Indian/South Asian students, with university partnerships with the Mumbai exchange, Punjab University and other collaborations with Western University/Indian academic and researching partnerships. Chancellor Professor Peter Shergold is also the NSW Coordinator-General for Refugee Resettlement, on behalf of the New South Wales Government. He also spoke about over $500,000.00 has been allocated to provided scholarships refugees coming to Australia and becoming students of Western Sydney University, with success stories shared at the Indian Community Engagement Dinner.
Also shared, Dr Renu Narchal, Director, Engagement & International at the Western Sydney University (WSU) is soon leading a mission of 19 WSU students to Delhi. The academic research project for this mission is to raise awareness through advocacy about the strengths and rights of persons with an intellectual disability in India and in Australia. Students from Western Sydney University, School of Social Sciences and Psychology (SSAP) within this short-term study proposal will visit and engage with the multi award winning NGO, Muskaan at Delhi, India. Muskaan is a voluntary organisation of parents and professionals that provides comprehensive education, training including vocational training and work opportunities to persons with an intellectual disability in India. During this time, SSAP students will also visit and engage with students at Lady Shriram College, University of Delhi, India to share their Muskaan experience and to jointly promote the strengths of persons with an intellectual disability thereby reducing stigma associated with intellectual disability in India and Australia.
This short-term study will provide students an opportunity for:
Direct engagement with persons with an intellectual disability, their parents/caregivers and special educators. The project will be an excellent ambassador for reducing stigma associated with intellectual disability in India and Australia.
Becoming aware of the strengths, and struggles of persons with an intellectual disability in India
Understanding the extent of training and social and emotional support required to develop life skills of persons with an intellectual disability to enhance their wellbeing.
Advocacy about the capacities of persons with an intellectual disability and last but not least
Experiencing Eastern culture, heritage, traditions and cultural practices.
Sharing their experience and networking with students at LSR to jointly be spokespersons for reducing stigma against persons with an intellectual disability in India.
The mobility program is targeted toward high achieving students from SSAP, Western Sydney University, primarily enrolled in the capstone unit ‘Contemporary Social Issues of Professional Practice’ or another similar unit within Bachelor of Social Science. Western Sydney University successes and achievements from the students, with its academic staff, is being much attributed to the engagement and involvement of the Indian community with the university, both at the campuses (Parramatta, Werrington, Campbelltown, Richmond, Milpera) across Western Sydney and its collaborations in India.