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STEM Changemaker & Leading Disability Activist


Jerusha Mather is a PhD student at Victoria University studying barriers to exercise in adults with Cerebral Palsy.

Current Work:

She is one of Australia’s first female PhD students in the medical sciences with a lived experience of cerebral palsy. She obtained a prestigious research grant from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to conduct her research. The doctors in her birthplace (Sri - Lanka) said she would never walk or talk. Coming to Australia changed everything for her, she was given therapy which improved her condition.
Jerusha was selected for the Kwong Lee Dow scholars’ program at Melbourne University which is an academic enrichment program for year ten students.

She was also chosen as a mentee in the L’Oréal- UNESCO Women in Science mentoring program 2020 which pairs PhD students with leading researchers in their field.

Her leading advocacy efforts for medical students with a disability were recently recognized by the Australian Academy of Sciences as one of the inaugural STEM change makers. Her advocacy has contributed to changes in policies to make medical education more accessible and inclusive. She is working with a policy manager from the Australian Medical Association to change the selection criteria for prospective medical students with a disability as there are few doctors with disabilities in Australia and she is passionate about changing this.
Her story has been showcased on WHO, Take 5, ABC, Women’s Agenda, the Age, and many other popular media outlets.

She has also been an outstanding disability advocate for inclusive dating platforms and accessible food packaging, transport, and clothing. She wrote to several companies to make them aware of this issue, discussed her ideas, and some of them considered her ideas.
She won the Bridge Change Award in 2021 for her change-making efforts across all spheres of society.

She also became a finalist for the Women’s Agenda Leadership Award (Health Category) and was named Australia’s Future Executives by We Aspire in 2021.

In addition, she was selected as a scholarship recipient for the prestigious Science Meets Parliament in 2022.
She also volunteered her time at the Northern hospital for social support. During the pandemic time, she wrote comforting letters to the elderly.

Jerusha has also published a poetry book Burnt bones and beautiful butterflies which ranked ten in Amazon’s poetry by women section. Her editor, Richard Potter expressed the opinion that” in her poems were an expression of her breaking free from confines and finding her voice:”. An excellent in-depth review of her book was shared in the Daily Californian.

She regularly writes poetry and was a motivational speaker at several events. She continues to speak.

Talking Points

Adversity to Triumph

Jerusha's personal story

How to influence and create change?

Accessibility in STEM

Accessible Packaging

Disability and Inclusion

Jerusha is a great Public Speaker who has been generous in spending time with my students. She uses her lived experience to advocate for inclusion and empowerment for young people with disabilities in the community. Victoria University

Jerusha is one unstoppable lady. She studied neuroscience, is doing her PhD and plans to be a doctor to better understand and help people with cerebal palsy. And she is super courageous in asking influential leaders and politicians to support this case.

Felicity Furey
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