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Fiji to benefit from Gillian’s skills

Media release

C262/08

26 September 2008

Curtin University of Technology graduate Gillian King is off on the adventure of a lifetime to work as a paediatric special education therapist in Fiji as part of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) Program, an Australian Government AusAID initiative.

The 25-year-old occupational therapy and education graduate, of Attadale, will work in the Fijian Ministry of Education’s Early Intervention Centre (EIC) during her 12 month assignment.

Gillian will train EIC teachers, develop and implement education and therapy programs plus develop and strengthen inclusion programs for children with special needs in mainstream and special education schools.

Since graduating from Curtin in 2007, Gillian has worked as an OT at The Centre for Cerebral Palsy and at the Koondoola Child Development Centre but was keen to broaden her work experience overseas.

“I have been interested in the AYAD Program for a while and have kept an eye on the assignments offered over the past three years,” she said.

“This particular position stood out for me because I felt I had the skills to do it and because I’m particularly interested in inclusive education and working with young children with disabilities.

“It is a big responsibility being involved in setting up programs and developing policies as it has the potential to have a big impact on the direction of special education and paediatric therapy services in Fiji in the future, but also exciting at the same time.”

While studying at Curtin, Gillian was involved in a number of programs that helped her to gain the skills necessary for her new role.

She was part of the Go Global program at Curtin where she travelled to China to gain practical experience in the Shanghai Bo Ai Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, undertook an honours project looking at the transition of young children with disabilities into mainstream schooling and took on an additional elective unit in special education on top of her normal study load.

“I’m looking forward to contributing to my host organisation’s vision of change for their service and working with them to develop achievable and sustainable systems of practice.”

Gillian flies to Fiji on 3 October to take up her new position.

People interested in finding out more about the AYAD program can visit www.ausaid.gov.au/youtham

Note to Editor/COS:  A photo of Gillian is available on request.

Modified: 26 September 2008