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Curtin Global Voices scholars use international stage for positive change

Media release

Reducing the health impacts of bushfires and supporting young people in a post-COVID world are the aims of two Curtin University students representing Australia as part of important international discussions after being awarded Global Voices scholarships.

Global Voices scholars Rachael Ryan and Niamh Wilkins.

Masters of Sustainability and Climate Policy student Rachael Ryan recently attended the World Health Assembly (WHA), while Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) student Niamh Wilkins will attend the coming Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Forum.

As two of this year’s 11 Global Voices scholars, the students will develop a policy paper with key recommendations about Australian public policy on topics related to the themes of the international forum they attend, while liaising with Australian government officials, senior academics, and policy experts.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Jill Downie congratulated the Curtin students on joining a network of more than 280 Global Voices alumni who have participated in over 85 international summits since the organisation’s inception in 2011.

“The prestigious Global Voices scholarships enable students to join major international delegations tackling important issues, and have input on how they believe they can help achieve positive real-world impact,” Professor Downie said.

“Rachael and Niamh have chosen to focus on two very pertinent areas of public health and I am confident that their ideas on ways to better protect people in times of crisis – whether through disaster or pandemic – will strike a chord on the world stage.”

Ms Ryan said the health and environmental impacts of climate change were becoming increasingly apparent in Australia and there was an urgent need to do more to care for people impacted by health emergencies caused by bushfires.

“My research aims to find policy solutions that protect vulnerable communities from the health impacts associated with prolonged exposure to smoke and airborne pollution from bushfires,” Ms Ryan said.

“My long-term goal is to make a meaningful contribution to environmental communications to protect human and non-human life and I believe that my Masters at Curtin and the Global Voices scholarship will help me achieve this.”

Ms Wilkins said her policy proposal aimed to help Australian students from marginalised communities to better cope with the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“As a young Australian in the higher education sector, I was one of 1.6 billion students to have their studies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Wilkins said.

“I was able to adapt to the learning changes in response to the pandemic given the accessibility I had to a working laptop, internet and online lecture and journal resources, but for many people living in marginalised communities, this is not the case.

“Given the schools and universities of today are building our leaders of tomorrow, Australia needs urgent implementation of the right policies in order to support our future leaders in their educational endeavours.”

Global Voices is a not-for profit organisation that is committed to nurturing the next generation of Australian leaders by providing practical experience in foreign policy and international relations.

For more information about Global Voices, visit here.