Australia Awards graduate, Sherol George, has been with the Vanuatu Skills Partnership as the Disability Inclusion Coordinator since 2016. In this position, Sherol has driven change across the skills sector to ensure the successful participation of people with disabilities – and shifting attitudes to recognise their value and contribution to society. Following her leadership in addressing disability and gender issues in the national response to Cyclone Harold, she has now been promoted to Inclusion Manager.
Sherol continues to play a critical role in the Gender Protection Cluster that was set up to assess emergency situations and collect data to build a national response plan to manage COVID-19 restrictions and TC Harold impacts.
“It takes a lot of coordination to ensure that the emergency centres in the different provinces provide the data that we need, and then to incorporate this information into the national plan to ensure inclusiveness of all marginalised groups – particularly people with disabilities. Nevertheless, we are doing it and I am proud of that,” Sherol explains.
“My technical skills in disability inclusion have greatly assisted me with this emergency response role, as I am able to apply these to work with partners so that inclusion is prioritised at a national level,” Sherol further explains.
Whenever Sherol is out in the field assessing and working with communities – with a specific focus on the inclusion of those who are disadvantaged by disability or gender – she always emphasises the benefits of training and community development approaches that leave no one behind. Sherol strongly thinks that inclusiveness is everybody’s business and she applies this to her daily work with her colleagues. It was through graduating with a Master in Special Education from the University of Newcastle Sherol believes she is in a better position to approach and address these issues of inclusion.
“But most importantly, I have acquired skills to assist me transferring my knowledge to other partners who are with us in the field, and this sharing of information can go a very long way in helping others,” Sherol adds.
“Gender protection and disability accessibility are always an issue. But this year is the first time, being in the forefront of COVID-19 and the Cyclone Harold response, that we, at the Vanuatu Skills Partnership, are dealing with humanitarian aid, and I have come to realise the importance of my skills in such a time as this.”