Mona Nikidehaghani knows what it feels like to be voiceless in society.
As a minority in her homeland of Iran, her voice counted for little when it came to progressing further in her education.
That’s why Mrs Nikidehaghani came to Australia to undertake a PhD in Accounting to prove that women can study a PhD while at the same time giving voice to people with disabilities.
Her research examines more than 100 years of disability welfare in Australia.
On Friday when she graduated from the University of Wollongong, Mrs Nikidehaghani thanked Australia.
‘’I did my undergraduate studies in Iran but because I was in a minority [religion] group, I was not allowed in public universities,’’ she said.
‘’I came here in 2012 to pursue my goals to complete a PhD in Accounting.
Australia gave me that opportunity to achieve my dream of higher education.- Mona Nikidehagnani
‘’Australia gave me that opportunity to achieve my dream of higher education.’’
While Australia provided education opportunities, it was at the University of Wollongong where Mrs Nikidehaghani met her husband.
The couple now have a 18-month-old son and live in Bathurst but Wollongong still holds fond memories for the pair.
‘’Wollongong is where it all began for me,’’ she said.
‘’Starting the PhD allowed me to give voice to those who are voiceless. My PhD looks at disability welfare in Australia from 1908, when the first welfare program in Australia was introduced.
‘’I wanted to see if there was any inter-relation between accounting and disability. In particular I wanted to see what are the consequences of policies for people with a disability and what happens in their life when accounting principles are applied.
‘’The findings kind of surprised me how inter-related accounting and people with a disability are, and how often politicians use accounting concepts such as asset income to justify programs for people with a disability.
‘’Politicians often pursue their own agenda and they put cost ahead of the medical benefits.’’
Mrs Nikidehaghani said completing the PhD was the start of her educational journey.
‘’I hope to work with researchers from Charles Sturt University and UOW and look at what NDIS means for people in the Illawarra. We hope the results will help policy makers to make well informed decisions,’’ she said.