"Uni 2 beyond" initiative wins national award

5 December 2017

The University of Sydney's "uni 2 beyond" initiative has taken out the Excellence in Education and Training Award at the 2017 National Disability Awards on Sunday 3 December.

(From L to R) The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Tahli Hind, uni 2 beyond student, Dylan Alcott, Paralympian, National Disability Awards, Professor Patricia O'Brien, Director, Centre for Disability Studies and Jemima MacDonald, Co-ordinator, uni 2 beyond.

The National Disability Awards were presented by Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, the Hon Jane Prentice MP as part of the International Day of People with Disability which is in its 25th year and is sanctioned by the United Nations.

The Excellence in Education and Training Award recognises excellence in inclusive education or vocational training that delivers improved economic and social outcomes for people with disability.

Uni 2 beyond is a two-year initiative run by the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Studies and supports people with intellectual disabilities to experience university life.

Students studying under the initiative attend lectures and tutorials supported by a University of Sydney peer mentor, and complete individual learning projects on up to two subjects each semester.

Centre for Disability Studies Director, Professor Patricia O’Brien said the award is great recognition of the inclusive culture operating within the University of Sydney.

“Gaining recognition on the International Day of People with Disability for those students with intellectual disability who are attending undergraduate classes at the University of Sydney through the uni 2 beyond initiative is a milestone for inclusion within university settings,” she said.

"Such validation will support students and their families to argue for the inclusion of their goal to go to university to be in their NDIS packages."

The initiative is one of only two programs of its kind nationally that boosts students’ confidence and independence, builds their work-ready skills, broadens their social networks and promotes inclusion on campus.  In recent years, the initiative has expanded to offer service-learning projects and employment internships to students.

Since being introduced to the University in 2012 it has grown from five students in its inaugural year to 11 current students and an alumni group of 23 who have studied across a range of faculties.

Earlier in the year uni 2 beyond launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise $20,000 for 2018 after its core funding was cut due to a change in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Elliott Richardson

Assistant Media Advisor (Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy)

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