Eva Kasim: an upbeat social welfare professional

It takes courage to study abroad. And for international student with disability, it definitely requires one to be audacious and bold to leave home, get on a plane for an adventure in a foreign country.

Eva Kasim requires mobility aids but that doesn’t prevent her to dream big. She took the opportunity to study in Australia after receiving a scholarship, all while she was also facing challenges and inconveniences with her limited mobility. And she even devoted time to get involved in volunteer work besides her study.

A Deakin University-graduate, she is now a Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Social Affairs Republic Indonesia based in Jakarta.

Like many other international students who returned to their home countries upon graduation, she relished the experience of studying in Australia and she shared her story with Advance.

Interview by Tammy Lee, Marketing & Communications & Digital Manager, Advance

Can you tell us what you do and your role?

I am a Policy Analyst at Ministry of Social Affairs Republic Indonesia, prior to that I was Deputy Director of Social Rehabilitation for Persons with Disabilities.

As a Policy Analyst I am responsible to provide information through policy memo, policy papers, policy briefs or notes for decision makers on social welfare policy.

What made you choose to go to Australia for study? How was the experience?

I went to Australia because I was offered a scholarship to study there. Australia is geographically close to Indonesia and it’s a multicultural country which might not be too hard for me to make adjustment to live there , especially when it came to Indonesian food!

I had great experience during my time in Australia. I was involved in community activities such as volunteering at aged care facilities. I had also established friendship with local organisation supporting people with disabilities as well as with Australian and international academics.

Another unforgettable experience was the support I received from the University, in which I was given accommodation close to the campus and a scooter so I could get around easily.

What drew you into social affairs? How has technology influenced the subject matter?

Social affairs is a complex issue. It’s not just about fulfilling basic needs such as food and housing, but also about relationship among people, economic in equality, etc. It’s also about people being accepted and respected.

Advancements in technology might have brought positive impact to our lives – people with disabilities are able to access and participate in many aspects of life with ease. But it has also created other social issues such as children become obsessed with technology and might lead to social isolation.

Does your Australian education inspire you in any way and help to advance your career?

Yes, it does.  My experience in Australia has not only widen and improved my knowledge and skills, it has also inspired me to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. I was also able to establish a professional network by connecting with individuals, local communities and academics from Australia and other countries.

 What are some of the biggest social challenges facing Jakarta/ Indonesia?

Population growth, especially in urban areas, which will have impact on welfare, transport, housing, environment and people’s living standards.

What do you miss most about Australia?

Accessible environment for people with disability in many places.