Australia Awards alum named a global game-changer

9 November 2023

Professor Abelardo Apollo David Jr has been awarded the prestigious Global Australian Award by for his work towards inclusive education and development opportunities for disabled children across the Philippines.

The Awards showcase the achievements of inspiring global Australians or alumni of Australian universities who are innovating in their field and shaping the world.

Professor David studied Occupational Therapy at the University of the Philippines, where he discovered his passion for working with children with developmental conditions such as autism, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy.

After graduating, he taught at the university before travelling to Australia to undertake a Master of Occupational Therapy (Contemporary Practice) at The University of Queensland (UQ) via an Australia Awards Scholarship.

Known as ‘Teacher Archie’, he has founded multiple organisations in the Philippines to provide community-based rehabilitation and to support empowerment and independence. He launched the first Independent Living Learning Centre, the largest private school for children with special needs in the Philippines, and later founded the Academia Progresiva de Manila and the Rehabilitation and Empowerment of Adults and Children with Handicap (REACH) Foundation, which provides education programs across the country.

Recognised globally as a model of best practice, Professor David was awarded the United Nations Public Service Award in 2015.

“Australia respected the vision I had for myself and for my country and sharpened it even further by giving me different perspectives to view it from. And that has certainly helped me to open my practice to a world of possibilities,” he said.

Professor David was celebrated in the Alumni category alongside fellow Australia Awards Fellowship recipient, Anan Bouapha, an internationally renowned human rights leader and founder of Laos’ first LGBTQI rights organisation.

Two additional UQ alum were also recognised at the Awards: Professor Glenn Denning, UQ alum and international food security expert, won the Global Australian of the Year & Global Impact Award, and Dr Brett Parkinson, chemical engineer and UQ alum (Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Chemical and Materials Engineering) won the Emerging Leader Award. Dr Cle-Anne Gabriel, former Senior Lecturer and UN PRME Director of Sustainability at UQ, and sustainable development expert, also won the Global Talent Award.

Listen to the interview with Professor David on the Global Australian Podcast.