Australia Awards short course promotes Gender, Equity, Disability and Social Inclusion in Philippines Civil Service

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The Australian Government, through the Australia Awards and Alumni Engagement Program – Philippines (AAAEP-P), in collaboration with The University of Queensland (UQ), is delivering a short course on Gender, Equity, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) Mainstreaming to key Philippine civil service agencies from June 2020 to March 2021.

The short course, which is being implemented by UQ’s International Development Unit, was designed to improve the competency of course participants and improve GEDSI outcomes of their respective agencies. Since its launch, the course has been equipping participants with knowledge and tools to lead change in a public sector context, and implement effective GEDSI mainstreaming policies and action.

The cross-agency training program has drawn on world-class expertise from UQ’s School of Political Science and International Studies, Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Political Science, and Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute.

“Our approach recognised that GEDSI is a complex problem. This allowed participants to develop generic competencies for addressing such problems, as well as a far greater appreciation of GEDSI issues in the Philippine context and how to tackle them. I am confident that the participants are now better equipped to deal with the issues that will confront them in their future careers,” said Dr Prue Brown, course leader, The University of Queensland.

A team of Australian, Filipino and American academics and professionals, with world-leading international expertise in policy design, guidance and implementation, designed the comprehensive set of training modules delivered entirely online. Throughout the course, participants developed concepts, principles, knowledge, soft skills and practical capabilities for the attainment of enhanced GEDSI mainstreaming across agencies.

Dr Brown said that it was an interesting challenge to deliver a course during a global pandemic, but that addressing GEDSI issues has never been more relevant.

“Many of the participants were working from home during some or all of the course, and we all saw first-hand the challenges faced in balancing work and home responsibilities. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the participants that they were able to complete the course requirements,” she said.

She also noted that online delivery has strengths and weaknesses. “Because the course was online, we were able to secure a fantastic team of global experts. The breadth of knowledge and experience our team brought to the course meant that participants not only benefitted from the theory that we covered, but also from the practical insights these experts brought to bear.”

“Our belief is that this course will result in positive change within the culture of Philippine government agencies, organisations, and the community. We were privileged to play a small part in this project,” Barry Whaley, Disability Inclusion Specialist from the Burton Blatt Institute, said.

Course participant Dionna Falamig from the Public-Private Partnership Centre said the short course had equipped her with the knowledge and skills to lead inclusive and sustainable change in her workplace. “The GEDSI Mainstreaming Short Course enabled me to broaden my knowledge, competency, and capacity to be a GEDSI champion,” Dionna said.

“The theories we have learned, as well as the stories shared by the UQ Delivery Team, highlighted the importance of really working towards inclusive development and providing opportunities to vulnerable and marginalised groups, especially as we recover from this pandemic,” April Mendoza, a participant from the National Economic and Development Authority, added.

Another participant, Josephine Altura from the Civil Service Commission, said the course encouraged her to reflect on the way she conducts herself at work.

“It has helped me be more conscious of my language and my thoughts, and I have become more observant of the terms that we are using in our planning. Even my colleagues have noticed a change in my attitude,” Josephine said.

An integral element of the training program is experiential learning through the development of a Re-Entry Action Plan (REAP). Developing their REAPs allows the participants to apply what they have learned from the course, implement the plan in their workplaces, and critically reflect on the outcomes.

“We have some exciting projects about to commence, which I fully expect to deliver positive outcomes across the public sector and beyond,” said Dr Brown.

Participants on the course come from the Civil Service Commission, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Transportation, Department of Trade and Industry, National Economic and Development Authority, Public-Private Partnership Centre, Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine Competition Commission, and Department of Budget and Management.

To learn more about AAAEP-P programs and UQ International Development’s work, please visit https://www.australiaawardsphilippines.org and https://icte.uq.edu.au/international-development