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Education key to breaking barriers and empowerment

21/09/2022. By Raquel de Brito.

Professor Jaya Dantas

As India’s extreme gender disparities prevailed around her, a young Jaya Dantas buried herself in her studies and broke through what seemed like impossible barriers the only way she knew how, with education.

Today, she continues to use her education as a beacon of hope for others downtrodden by inequality in her role as Dean, International at Curtin University and more recently as Dean of Gender Equality, Inclusion and Diversity: Faculty of Health Sciences.

She knows better than anyone the limitations inequality can place on various social groups to succeed, having lived in a country of severe disparities between the rich and poor, men and women, and various tribal groups.

But as someone who escaped such limitations, she can attest that education is the most powerful weapon against them.

“When I finished my master’s education my first substantive job was in a woman’s university,” Jaya said.

“For me, if women are educated, empowered and have a job, it gives them that ability to progress,’’ she said.

“They often say when you educate a woman, you educate a nation. And if you educate a community this makes a huge difference to people and their families.”

As Professor of International Health Jaya also holds a teaching position in Curtin’s School of Population Health and has spent 20 years researching refugee and migrant populations and works relentlessly to bridge the gap.

“Globally what we’ve seen is the diversity and inclusion agenda is gaining more prominence and especially in terms of gender equality,” she said.

At the university level, Jaya wants to see more women of colour, women of diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal women and women with disabilities have senior roles.

She currently supports Curtin’s Humanitarian Scholarship for international students and the university’s Moorditj Yorga Scholarship, for mature-aged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“We often find that there will be many women of colour and of different diverse backgrounds at the lower levels and the mid-levels. But when it comes to the higher levels, it, it is more of a challenge to achieve that,” she said.

Jaya’s humanitarian endeavours extend beyond a professional capacity, having transformed the lives of several children through her involvement in foster care over the past 17 years.

 “I was doing research with refugee youth when I met the cultural diversity officer from the Department of Child Protection. She said they were really looking for foster carers of other backgrounds,” she said.

Jaya, with her mother, children and foster daughter.

Without hesitation, and while completing her PhD and parenting two children of her own, she put her hand up, and fostered her first child – a 10-year-old boy who lived with her until he reached 18 and whom she continues to maintain a bond with.

Dealing with significant trauma of their own, that would have otherwise stunted their development, it was thanks to Jaya’s guidance and encouragement to pursue an education, they thrived.

One of her foster children became a nurse, one is studying to become a naturopath, and another is completing a double degree.

“Education is the key to breaking barriers for anyone – men and women. The more educated you are, the more empowered you are,” she said.

Her tireless efforts to empower the disadvantaged also saw Jaya launch the EMPOWER project, where she assisted refugee and migrant women in navigating their way through job hunting in WA.

Jaya’s EMPOWER project gives hope to refugee women looking for employment in WA.

“We had classes like preparing for an interview, writing a CV and answering a cover letter,’’ she said.

In 2019, Jaya headed another project for migrant women called SAMBA (South Asian and Middle Eastern Women Being Active), which looks at physical activity programs and how these can help women to feel part of the community and create a positive impact on physical and mental health.

SAMBA encourages women to get active and boost their mental and physical health.

“What we wanted to look at is when migrant women come to Australia, they look after their families, their husbands, their children, and they try and get a job if they can, but they often neglect their health and wellbeing,” she said.

“This physical activity program gives them an avenue to attend physical activity with other migrant women who are passionate about physical activity, dance and exercise.

“For 10 weeks, they can attend a free class and see if it makes a difference in their lives.”

It might seem like relentless work to some, but Jaya is fueled by an innate understanding that an empowered woman can achieve anything.

“Sometimes I feel they just need someone to talk to. Not only about the good things, but about the challenges,’’ she said.

“This not only gives me a great deal of satisfaction, it also gives the women an avenue to unpack or talk through these issues on a one-on-one basis.

“Women are very resilient and if they have this sense of direction, they can succeed,’’ she said.

___

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Want an easy and light summer meal that won’t break the bank or require you to crank up your steaming oven on a hot day?
 
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1 Tbsp pine nuts
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Dressing:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
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*Amounts can be adjusted based on your personal preference.
 
Method:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly before starting the food preparation.
2. Prepare ingredients by chopping rocket leaves, strawberries and avocado. If you are using dry lupin, hydrate flakes as per instructions on packet.
3. Mix ingredients listed in step 2 in a bowl.
4. Add dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
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6. Top salad with pine nuts and enjoy your salad.
 
Want to take this salad to the next level? Add some grilled chicken strips. 😋
 
Did you try it? Make sure to tag us to get featured on our Instagram stories.
 
If you’re a #CurtinGrad with a delicious recipe to share? DM us for a chance to get featured.📩
 
#CurtinGradCookOff #halloween #summertime #summersalad #vegetarian #healthyrecipes #healthysalad #summerfood #summerrecipes #perthfoodgram#perthtodo #perthisok #perthfoodie #lunchrecipes #nutrition #foodstagram #healthyfoodideas

🍓🥗 Lupin Strawberry Salad 🍓🥗
 
Want an easy and light summer meal that won’t break the bank or require you to crank up your steaming oven on a hot day?
 
Curtin graduate Noor Abdallah’s healthy Lupin Strawberry Salad will bring some much-needed colour to your summer entertaining or weeknight meal.
 
Ingredients:
2 Cups Rocket Leaves
1 Cup Lupin Flakes (hydrated)
1/2 Strawberries Cup
1/4 Avocado Cup
1 Tbsp Dill
1 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 
Dressing:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1/2 Lemon
 
*Amounts can be adjusted based on your personal preference.
 
Method:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly before starting the food preparation.
2. Prepare ingredients by chopping rocket leaves, strawberries and avocado. If you are using dry lupin, hydrate flakes as per instructions on packet.
3. Mix ingredients listed in step 2 in a bowl.
4. Add dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
5. Finally, roast pine nuts in a pan with extra virgin olive oil.
6. Top salad with pine nuts and enjoy your salad.
 
Want to take this salad to the next level? Add some grilled chicken strips. 😋
 
Did you try it? Make sure to tag us to get featured on our Instagram stories.
 
If you’re a #CurtinGrad with a delicious recipe to share? DM us for a chance to get featured.📩
 
#CurtinGradCookOff #halloween #summertime #summersalad #vegetarian #healthyrecipes #healthysalad #summerfood #summerrecipes #perthfoodgram#perthtodo #perthisok #perthfoodie #lunchrecipes #nutrition #foodstagram #healthyfoodideas
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“Helping the next generation and educating and influencing others about Indigenous culture and ways of living is so important.” 🖤❤️💛
 
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Since graduating in 2022, Grace Anderson (M Human Rights 2022) has been grateful for her time at Curtin, which gave her the practical tools to pursue her passion for human rights.

“I am so proud to say I went to Curtin working in the human rights sphere; the faculty members are so visible and active in advocacy and reform; I am so grateful.”

As the world was emerging from #COVID19 lockdowns, Grace was able to complete her dissertation in her final semester while travelling the world.

Her biggest goal this year is to launch her podcast with Amnesty International Australia, which will give a voice to people with lived experience of human rights abuses.

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Welcome back everyone, we are so ready for the year ahead! 💫
 
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Want to discover more about our community or keen to connect with other Curtin graduates or friends? Update your details with us to learn more via the link in bio. 👆
 
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At the end of the day, universities that prioritise students with the kindness of alumni and friends are long-lasting universities and thanks to your support, we are proud to be a university that does just that.
 
We wish you all an enjoyable and restful festive season and look forward to embracing the exciting year ahead! 💛🎄
 
#CurtinUniversity #gratitude #thankyou #highereducation #festiveseason #endoftheyear

As we wrap up for the year, we would like to thank all our alumni and friends who help us put our students first. 💫
 
It has been such a joy being a part of such a vibrant and lasting community committed to helping enable our students to become our future leaders and changemakers of the world.
 
At the end of the day, universities that prioritise students with the kindness of alumni and friends are long-lasting universities and thanks to your support, we are proud to be a university that does just that.
 
We wish you all an enjoyable and restful festive season and look forward to embracing the exciting year ahead! 💛🎄
 
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Life hasn’t been easy for Aldan Clinch, spending most of his younger years in and out of prison.

Despite his struggles, Aldan Clinch always knew he was destined for something better.

During his last stint at Casuarina Prison, Aldan enrolled in the Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course (ITEC) prison program, run by the Curtin AHEAD team.

Through the program, ITEC tutor Narelle Guest helped guide Aldan and other Casuarina students to dream of a future that could be unlocked through education.

The hope Narelle was instilling in her students inspired her daughter, Eve to support the ITEC prison program. Now, both mother and daughter are working to minimise the barriers students from the ITEC prison program face while transitioning back into the community.

Through this support, Aldan completed the ITEC program and is now on the path to completing an Environmental Science degree at Curtin.

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🖤❤️💛

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinCommunity #WesternAustralia #Aboriginal #TorresStraitIslander #Education #Leadership #HigherEducation #MakingADifference #CommunityMatters #Thankyou #WorkingTogether

Life hasn’t been easy for Aldan Clinch, spending most of his younger years in and out of prison.

Despite his struggles, Aldan Clinch always knew he was destined for something better.

During his last stint at Casuarina Prison, Aldan enrolled in the Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course (ITEC) prison program, run by the Curtin AHEAD team.

Through the program, ITEC tutor Narelle Guest helped guide Aldan and other Casuarina students to dream of a future that could be unlocked through education.

The hope Narelle was instilling in her students inspired her daughter, Eve to support the ITEC prison program. Now, both mother and daughter are working to minimise the barriers students from the ITEC prison program face while transitioning back into the community.

Through this support, Aldan completed the ITEC program and is now on the path to completing an Environmental Science degree at Curtin.

Thank you to our amazing Curtin community, when we come together, we can make a powerful impact! 💫

🖤❤️💛

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Read more about Annabel’s inspiring story in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆

#CurtinUniversity #NewColomboPlan #NCP #Scholarships #Arts #CriminalLaw #International #Internship #InternshipProgram #Scholarship #HigherEducation #Education

Congratulations to International Relations students Annabel Biscotto and Ashleigh Smith on being named prestigious 2023 New Colombo Plan Scholars. 👏

Next year, Annabel will undertake a full-time internship at the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, while Ashleigh will study a semester at the Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan.

One of the first in her family to pursue higher education, through the generous support of Curtin staff, Annabel has been able to pursue her passion for criminal law and helping others seek justice.

“It’s been a goal of mine to study overseas since participating in a student exchange to Italy in high school and I’m very grateful to finally turn my dream into a reality with the support of the New Colombo Plan Scholarship.”

We can’t wait to watch their exciting journeys next year! 🌏💫

Read more about Annabel’s inspiring story in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆

#CurtinUniversity #NewColomboPlan #NCP #Scholarships #Arts #CriminalLaw #International #Internship #InternshipProgram #Scholarship #HigherEducation #Education
...