20150708 Access to education through new ideas 370x298Coffey’s Australia Awards Vietnam program is delivering innovative social inclusion initiatives

Australia is internationally recognised as a leading donor in disability-inclusive development. Australia has ratified the United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and is committed to our development activities including and benefitting people with disability.

Coffey assists the Australian Government to meet their policy objectives of inclusive development by putting innovative ideas into practice during program implementation, as well as actively supporting social inclusiveness through our own development practice. A good example is the Australia Awards Vietnam program.

The awards program has been managed by Coffey since October 2009. It’s a high performing program supporting a large number of individuals. Education plays a key role in reducing poverty and improving economic growth. With this in mind, the Australia Awards scholarships were developed to forge future generations of global leaders to drive future development in their country.

In the last five years, Australia Awards Vietnam has provided 114 scholarships to rural disadvantaged people and 17 awards to people living with a disability. It also has an active alumni network of about 2000 people.

Improving access through innovation

Coffey uses innovation to improve access to the Australia Awards for all. This has included the development of an Equity of Access Fund which is used to fund initiatives to facilitate equal access of the disadvantaged to the scholarship program. Special attention will continue to be paid to the placement of persons with a disability and their monitoring on-award.

Social and online media is also increasingly used to promote Australia Awards Vietnam, generating additional applicants and strengthening alumni groups through Facebook, SMS and email, moving away from traditional print media following research showing it is not effective.

Coffey’s social inclusion experts act as change agents to influence access to the Australia Awards in-country. They develop culturally appropriate, locally targeted social inclusion strategies, to increase participation in education and the workforce. The plan addresses gender equality, disability and other issues of social inclusion through all aspects of the scholarship cycle. Working closely with organisations dealing with disability, gender and ethnic minorities helps to obtain more applications from persons with a disability and ethnic minorities – as well as increased applications for gender and disability studies.

And monitoring and evaluation specialist skills have significantly advanced human resource development on the program. We are exploring long terms options to strengthen people to people and organisational links through more effective alumni networks, with learning to inform future program investments.

For donor aid programs to be successful they need to reach and include those who are at times left on the margins, either through disability or geographical location and access to services.

The program is delivering a series of specified aid topic briefing papers to increase the awards’ public diplomacy contribution to the Australian mission in Vietnam. This is building understanding of the intended outcomes of social inclusion in-country, and strengthening the bilateral relationship between Australia and Vietnam.

For donor aid programs to be successful they need to reach and include those who are at times left on the margins, either through disability or geographical location and access to services. The Australian Government is working in partnership with Coffey to ensure strong social inclusion outcomes happen in Vietnam through the Australia Awards, working with the next generation of global leaders to change the way social inclusion outcomes are achieved in the future.

To view a PDF version of this insight, click here.

View our Australia Awards Vietnam case study.