Australia Awards scholar Tonny Castro from Dili was diagnosed with polio when he was 6 years old, a disease that paralysed half his body.

Despite the challenges of living with a disability, Tonny’s has had an impressive career working for many organisations including the East Timorese National Red Cross, CARE International Timor-Leste, World Vision Timor-Leste and many more. He’s also been a chair of the board for disability organisation ASSERT. At all the organisations he’s worked with Maun Tonny has championed inclusive development.

Over the past year, he’s been busy studying for a bachelor’s degree in Community Development at Victoria University in Melbourne.

Tonny motivated himself by saying to himself ‘other people can, so why can’t I? This made him keep trying until he finally got an Australian scholarship opportunity.

“I was so excited knowing that I was going to study in Australia. I’d applied for scholarships in the past but been unsuccessful. So, when I submitted my application this time, I had little expectation. So far, the Australia Awards scholarship is my biggest academic achievement.”

In Timor-Leste Tonny used braces and crutches to walk, but as part of his scholarship he’s been given a mobility scooter, which gives him much more freedom to move around.

Maun Tonny is also a talented musician who has produced several albums and sang in Dili’s community choir and Radio Mojo. As well as his love of music, Tonny is passionate about his studies. Watch his music album here:

“I want to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities to an education, and to advocate for access to justice, such as the use of sign language in court.”

Once he’s graduated with a degree in Community Development, he’s determined to use his new knowledge and skills to contribute to the development of Timor-Leste, especially for people living with a disability.



"Living with a disability is not a challenge to realise my dream to study in Australia", Tonny said.

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