If Australia Awards alumna Claudette Wilson looks familiar, it’s because she has been the voice for Fiji’s deaf community, providing essential sign language interpretation, during the Ministry of Health and Medical Services COVID-19 press conferences!
Passionate about her vocation, Claudette has 17 years of experience teaching children with disabilities, including children with hearing impairment and the broader deaf community. Claudette is a changemaker who is actively improving equality for people with disabilities.
“In all my years of teaching children with special needs, I realised that they have the ability to cope and perform exceptionally in a regular classroom. It is just a matter of adapting teaching strategies to suit their needs and giving them the opportunity to carry through with their education” she said.
In 2018, Claudette was awarded an Australia Awards Scholarship to study a Bachelor of Inclusive Education and Disability Studies at the Australia Catholic University. “The study opportunity expanded my skills not only academically but more broadly – I consider holistic learning practices that are more inclusive and will empower people with disabilities” she said.
While in Australia, Claudette diversified her professional experience and networks by working with three disability support service organisations.
After completing her studies, Claudette reconnected with her colleagues from the Fiji Sign Language Interpreters Association, with whom she has been sharing her newly acquired knowledge and skills. Since April 2021, Claudette and her colleagues have been interpreting for Fiji’s parliamentary sittings as well as interpreting key messages for the Ministry of Health & Medical Services during press conferences and more recently, assisting with the national vaccination efforts to ensure the deaf community have equal access to information.
When asked what motivates her, Claudette said “adopting inclusive attitudes and practices in the classroom, home, workforce and the community will make Fiji and the world a better place to live in. My Australia Awards skills and knowledge around inclusive education have further empowered me and I’m ready to share these in Fiji”.
Claudette’s advice to Fijians is: “Know your worth as a person, and as a professional”.