Md Alimuzzaman Milon: Paying opportunities forward
Posted: 22 January 2024
Australia Awards scholar Md Alimuzzaman Milon is a Senior Assistant Secretary to the Government of Bangladesh. His determination and resilience have helped him overcome adversity and led to many opportunities, and he works hard to share the benefits with others.
The following video is a reflection of Milon’s life as an Australia Awards scholar in Australia.
After being affected by polio as a toddler, Milon developed a physical disability: a hand deformity. However, he taught himself to improvise ways to cope with this limitation. He did not let it deter him from striving for academic excellence, and the skills and knowledge he gained through his studies led to him joining the Bangladesh civil service.
In this role, he was directly involved in supporting the COVID-19 relief efforts in remote Bangladesh. During that time, Milon realised that Bangladesh’s existing social security system requires reforms to make it more inclusive and efficient. To help him contribute to such reforms, Milon aspired to study abroad, but feared that lack of opportunities for people with disability might prevent him doing so. Fortunately, Australia Awards recognised his strengths and potential and offered him an Australia Awards Scholarship.
With the support of this Scholarship, Milon is undertaking a Master of Public Policy at Flinders University. He chose this course, which he will complete in 2024, because it will help him identify options for reforming Bangladesh’s social security policy to ensure a global standard of inclusiveness and efficient service delivery.
“My education in Australia has helped me grasp the true meaning, objectives and scope of the development policies and how these affect the economy and society in the long run,” he says.
Milon notes that it would not have been possible for him to move to a foreign country for higher studies without the tailored support he receives from Australia Awards. This support includes assistance for his wife to come to Australia as his caregiver and other provisions to make the international adjustment easier.
“Accessibility in Australia has truly changed my life,” he says. “I even received a tablet from Australia Awards, which has made my day-to-day activities more convenient. There are so many opportunities for everyone here—and, culturally, people are very accepting.”
His hard work and desire for academic excellence has paid off: he was among the top 15% of students in his cohort across all the academic disciplines at Flinders University. In fact, to his surprise, Milon was awarded four Certificates of Excellence from the Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University, for securing the highest marks in all four courses he took in his first semester. Milon also received the Chancellor Letter of Commendation award for outstanding academic performance and high GPA in the 2022–23 academic year.
On top of that, he was highly commended for the 2023 Postgraduate Coursework Award in the Academic Excellence category at the 2023 StudyAdelaide International Student Awards. The award program is endorsed by Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia.
Despite all these accolades, Milon says that academic excellence is not a race, but a journey to become the best we can be. It’s a journey he wants to share with others, and he’s not waiting until he returns to Bangladesh to help pay his opportunities forward. Having always believed in the maxim that ‘to teach is to learn twice’, Milon signed up as an academic mentor at Flinders University’s International Student Services and volunteered in the Flinders Mates program through the university’s student community wellbeing centre, Oasis. These roles during his study have enriched his leadership quality and given him a better understanding of multiculturalism and Australian work culture.
It’s clear that Milon is always looking for new opportunities and experiences. While studying his master’s degree, Milon also applied for a professional development grant offered by Australia Awards – South Asia & Mongolia to gain positive, educational and engaging experiences in Australia and create valuable personal and professional connections. As a grant recipient, he attended an executive course provided by the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization to address inequality in accessing healthcare. This course was an excellent opportunity for Milon’s professional development and international networking. It helped him connect with healthcare finance policy practitioners working across the globe.
“This professional development grant helped me develop a wide professional network with people working in the social health protection sector,” he says. “Around 50 people from different parts of the world—like Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America—participated in [the] course. Now we all are connected to each other through our professional networks.”
Speaking about how the Professional Development Activity Grant will enhance his career back home, Milon says, “I work for the Government of Bangladesh, and I aspire to build my career in the civil service as a social policy expert. My aim is to contribute to reforming the social health protection policy to achieve universal health coverage in Bangladesh. This training equipped me with the technical know-how of health protection policy formulation and implementation with a view to ensuring universal health coverage. The specialised knowledge and professional networks that I have developed from this training will boost my career advancement in this field.”
Milon also had the opportunity to attend the Scholars Forum 2023, which brought together Australia Awards scholars from South Asia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Timor–Leste for a professional development program and high-profile networking opportunities. He was excited to see scholars joined by representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, senior representatives of advocacy groups, and staff from Australian universities and institutions.
Milon is well-connected with academics and policy practitioners in Australia and worldwide. It makes him confident to collaborate and work with international linkages in the future. He believes that his Australian studies have boosted his confidence to lead from the front and expand his administrative capacity to provide services to the people of Bangladesh, by implementing the national government projects at upazila, district and national level to contribute to better policy design and implementation in the future.
“As a bureaucrat, I am committed to working for the less privileged people, so they are not left behind. I am in a privileged position, which helps me motivate and give hope to people, since I work closely with people from rural areas,” he says.
Beyond his studies, Milon takes time to experience and enjoy the rich and diverse Australian culture. So far, he has visited Australian Parliament House in Canberra and South Australian Parliament in Adelaide, witnessing live parliament sessions and real-world policy-making processes, which he found to be quite exciting and a learning opportunity. He has also visited Melbourne, the scenic beauty of Mount Buller, the Great Ocean Road and Yarra Valley in Victoria, and the National Museum in Canberra. As a cricket fan, Milon has also visited Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Australian Sports Museum.
“Receiving an Australia Awards Scholarship has been a life-changing opportunity for me to build connections, share and improve my knowledge, and add a whole new chapter of experience in my personal and professional life,” Milon says. “I am forever grateful to the Australia Awards Scholarship.”