Access to education is vital to success and Griffith University is making sure students with disability have access to quality, higher education and benefit from a strategic commitment to inclusion through Griffith’s Disability Action and Inclusion Plan.

This year, enrolments for students with a disability increased by almost 35%, and students identifying that they have a disability make up 10% of the entire student cohort.

Cathy Easte

Griffith Student Disability and Accessibility Manager Cathy Easte.

Physical access, digital access and inclusive learning environments are high priorities at Griffith, and will allow students to participate on campus without barriers so they can concentrate on their study and achievements.

Facilitating the orientation event for new students with disability, Griffith Student Disability and Accessibility Manager and Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability President, Cathy Easte said the program supports thousands of Griffith students with disability to succeed throughout their learning journey.

“Griffith’s commitment to inclusion promotes student independence and confidence, and will contribute to the successful completion of degrees,” Ms Easte said.

“The service is focused on flexibility and genuine understanding based on experience of disability because disability comes in all shapes, sizes and forms — and many disabilities are invisible.

“We seek to remove the barriers through universal design and bespoke solutions to barriers as they arise.

“We understand talking about disability can be challenging for students, but we encourage anyone who needs support to come to us early rather than waiting until later.”

Jointly sponsored with Griffith’s Inclusive Futures: Reimagining Disability, the orientation event featured a panel of inspiring speakers including Disability Advocate and Media Expert Lisa Cox, Doctor, Lawyer and Researcher Dr Dinesh Palipana, and Paralympian and Founder/Director of Sport Access Foundation Katie Kelly.

Dr Palipana said education is the one thing that will empower people to drive their own lives.

“It’s amazing to see 4507 students with disability enrolled at Griffith University this trimester,” Dr Palipana said.

Dr Dinesh Palipana champions education as a game changer.

“There’s always been a gap in education for people with a disability – to see this change happen is exciting!

“I knew early on in life how important education is, having grown up in Sri Lanka with so many kids that lived through poverty.

“For our disabled community to be empowered through education – it’s a huge step and it will make a massive difference.”

Studying aMasters of Primary Teaching,studentAshleigh Forsythaspiresto break the barriers and stigma surrounding peoplewho aredeafandhard of hearing.

“I’m passionate about our deaf community being immersed in the hearing world and feeling welcome,” Ms Forsyth said.

“I want to see a future where deaf people are treated as everyone else is treated and have the same opportunities to gain education, employment and a satisfying career.

Griffith Student Ashleigh Forsythe aspires to break the barriers and stigma surrounding people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

“It will be amazing when there are more deaf people in professional roles such as doctors, lawyers and dentists – real role models for younger generations.

“We cannot learn to hear but the hearing world can learn our language, learn to respect the deaf community and learn to understand our struggles.

“Griffith University offers a wide variety of support including Auslan Interpreters, live captioning, note takers and emotional support to students with a disability.

“As a deaf person, communicating with someone on the Disability Support Team who knows Auslan is a great bonus!”

Griffith Inclusive Futures: Reimagining Disability Director Professor Elizabeth Kendall said the beacon is proud to support this event and all universities need to embrace an approach that welcomes students and staff with disability.

Griffith Inclusive Futures: Reimagining Disability Director Professor Elizabeth Kendall.

“We believe the more involvement we can have with the students from the start of their degree, the more they feel part of a community that values what they bring to our organisation,” Professor Kendall said.

“Orientation week also marked Griffith’s participation in the Universities Enable presentation to the 2023 Universities Australia Conference on the benefits of disability in Australian universities.

“We are proud to be a foundation member of Universities Enable because it will bring a new future for so many people with disability.”

10: Reduced Inequalities
UN Sustainable Development Goals 10: Reduced Inequalities

4: Quality Education
UN Sustainable Development Goals 4: Quality Education