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29 Jul, 2013

Remarkable inventions amongst finalists of Australia’s 7th National Disability Awards


Canberra, 25 July 2013,  Media Release, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers – Australia’s first ever fully accessible theatre performance for deaf, blind, sighted and hearing audiences, an apprenticeship employment program for people with disability and an iPad and iPhone application that personalises care needs for use by all people with disability are among the finalists in this year’s National Disability Awards.

Minister for Disability Reform Jenny Macklin, and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Amanda Rishworth, today congratulated the 27 finalists across the nine award categories.

The National Disability Awards, now in their seventh year, celebrate the valuable contribution that individuals and organisations have made in improving the lives of people with disability in Australia, and building awareness of disability issues.

Finalists were chosen from almost 200 nominations for the awards against nine categories, which closely align with the National Disability Strategy’s key areas for action to improve participation for people with disability.

Ms Macklin said this year’s awards come at an exciting time for people with disability, their families and carers, following the launch of DisabilityCare Australia on 1 July.

“Under DisabilityCare Australia, Australians with significant and permanent disability will for the first time have the power to choose the support they need and how that support is provided,” Ms Macklin said. “I’m extremely pleased that the first weeks of DisabilityCare Australia have been a success with many people with disability across the launch sites already receiving support under the new scheme.”

Ms Rishworth congratulated the finalists on achieving creative solutions to improve inclusion of people with disability.

“One of the remarkable achievements of the finalists is the development of the first official wheelchair basketball program in the Solomon Islands by an inspiring young person with disability who is passionate about improving the lives of people with disability all around the world,” Ms Rishworth said.

“Another is an exciting project that demonstrates the benefits of participation in art for people with disability, the capacity of technology to provide new opportunities for participation and the influence their creative contributions can have on social inclusion. The finalists are made up of individuals who are passionate advocates for people with disability, small organisations right through to big businesses which have changed their work practices to be more inclusive.”

The seventh annual National Disability Awards will be held on 26 November as a special celebration leading up to International Day of People with Disability on 3 December. Events will  be held around the country on 3 December to celebrate the 21st anniversary of International Day of People with Disability.

Further information about each of the 27 finalists is provided below. For more information on the awards and the International Day please visit www.idpwd.com.au

Lifetime Achievement Award in Disability

Ms Sue Salthouse (Chisholm, ACT) Ms Salthouse has worked in the area of social justice and human rights since 1996, playing an active role in systemic advocacy for women with disabilities. She is the Convenor of Women With Disabilities ACT and runs her own consultancy company which specialises in disability sector issues.
Ms Ann Procter (Duffy, ACT) Ann Procter has over 40 years of personal and professional experience in advocacy, training and service delivery for people with disability. As the mother of three children, one of whom has multiple and profound intellectual and physical disabilities, she is dedicated to pursuing the rights of people with disability to encompass physical, social and economic inclusion.
Mr John Moxon (Northmead, NSW) John Moxon has had a long and active history of involvement in advocacy and support services for people with disability for over 30 years. He has been involved in a range of organisations at the local, state and national levels including leadership positions.

Emerging Leaders Award in Disability

Miss Drisana Levitzke-Gray (Balga, WA) At age 20, Drisana Levitzke-Gray is a self-motivated young Deaf woman who promotes and supports the Deaf community in a voluntary capacity, inspiring others along the way. Drisana is an active participant in local Deaf community activities and she is the youngest committee member of the Western Australian Association of the Deaf (WAAD).
Mr Huy Nguyen (Isaacs, ACT) Huy Nguyen has pioneered many developments to improve the lives of people with disability. He developed the first official wheelchair basketball program in the Solomon Islands, is the founder of a social enterprise called Enable Development and led a highly motivated group of development organisations toward an inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene practice in Timor Leste.
Mr Sam Bramham (Fitzroy, Vic) Sam Bramham is a Paralympian using his life experiences to educate young people with disability about the challenges and opportunities they will face, whether that be in education, sport or facing adversity. He takes a light-hearted approach to his disability, famously telling international journalists that his leg was bitten off by a ‘monster kangaroo.’

Excellence in Accessible Communities

Merrigong Theatre Company (Wollongong, NSW) Merrigong Theatre Company is committed to achieving equal access to great theatre for all patrons, with a number of access services and facilities.
Western Desert Dialysis (Alice Springs, NT) Western Desert Dialysis is an Aboriginal Community Controlled health service. With no government funding, the service has managed to procure and run a purple truck which travels widely to remote communities in the NT, WA and SA providing dialysis to those in need.
Beatty Park Swim School Angelfish Program, City of Vincent (North Perth, WA) The Angelfish Program is centred on the philosophy of inclusivity and offers individuals with disability the opportunity to develop a lifelong skill. A high level of support (including physical, communication, emotional and community) is provided throughout the transition process into mainstream classes and beyond if required.

Excellence in Improving Social Participation Award

Adelaide Festival (Adelaide, SA) The Adelaide Festival considers access an integral part of its activities and is committed to going above and beyond legal compliance to follow best practice, show leadership, act as an advocate, maintain its Australian benchmark status, and ultimately, ensure its activities are as broadly inclusive as possible.
Vitalstatistix and Gaelle Mellis (Port Adelaide, SA) Presented by Vitalstatistix, Take Up Thy Bed & Walk (TUTBAW) was the first fully accessible theatre performance in Australia. It uniquely incorporated a range of access elements such as sign language, audio description and captioning aesthetically (aesthetic access) into the core of the work making it seamlessly accessible to deaf, blind, sighted and hearing audiences all at the same time.
Penrith City Council (Penrith, NSW) In collaboration with others, Penrith City Council has produced No Boundaries, an exciting project that demonstrates the benefits of participation in art for people with disability, the capacity of technology to provide new opportunities for participation and the influence their creative contributions can have on social inclusion.

Excellence in Advocacy & Rights Promotion Award

Ms Kairsty Wilson (Melbourne, Vic) Kairsty Wilson’s vigorous and unrelenting advocacy has resulted in significant changes in the lives of individuals with disability and substantial systemic reforms. In dealing with highly complex, difficult and lengthy matters, Ms Wilson maintains genuine relationships with her clients, managing the disparate and sometime difficult aspects of these cases with humour and good grace.
Professor Christine Bigby (Melbourne, Vic) Professor Christine Bigby is a leading advocate for the social inclusion of people living with intellectual disabilities. In a career spanning more than three decades, Professor Bigby has published five books and over 100 refereed journal articles, books chapters and policy reports on topics related to achieving social inclusion for people living with intellectual disability.
Mr Robert Pask (Bentleigh East, Vic) Robert Pask is an advocate for people living with disability and chronic illness. He established a peer advocacy program for people living with MS that has developed over 5 years. This program uses a unique model of mentoring and networking that advocates use to progress their key issues.

Excellence in Improving Employment Opportunities

ABLE – Westpac Group Employee Action Group for Access Ability (National) Westpac Group’s proactive network of employees volunteer as advocates for people with disability. The ABLE (Assisting Better Lives for Everyone) Employee Action Group is working to make positive change for Westpac’s 12 million customers, 36,000 employees and the community more broadly.
Key Employment (Coffs Harbour, NSW) Key Employment has developed an apprenticeship employment program for people with disability in 3 ESAs in Regional NSW. In doing this, they have placed over 150 students with significant and permanent disability into apprenticeships under their KIKASS (Kids in Key’s Apprenticeship Support Scheme) program.
ANZ (National) ANZ pride themselves on an ongoing commitment – as a leading bank and large employer – to attract, value, include and help customers and employees with disabilities to progress. Released this year, their revised Accessibility & Inclusion Plan details how they intend to shift focus from having a Disability Action Plan to formally integrating the ideas of accessibility and inclusion right across their business.

Excellence in Improving Personal & Community Support

Ms Damon Taylor (Terranora, NSW) Damon is a nurse, mother and carer for her 7 year old son with severe cerebral palsy. She has designed an iPad and iPhone application called ‘Care for me’ allowing all care needs to be personalised and demonstrated through the use of video, photo or text format, for use by all people with disability.
Spinal Injuries Association (Woolloongabba, QLD) The Spinal Injuries Association is Queensland’s industry leader for people with spinal cord injuries, with approximately 2,000 members and clients across the state. Their mission is to empower members by supporting and promoting their independence.
Hear for You (National) Hear For You, a not-for-profit organisation established in 2007 operates in several locations providing a mentoring program for deaf and hearing-impaired children and young people.

Excellence in Improving Education Outcomes Award

St Patricks Catholic Primary School (Lochinvar, NSW) St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar, fosters a whole school inclusive model of education, involving the staff, parents, students and the community. Children of all abilities have access to a flexible learning program that is closely monitored and assessed to determine positive outcomes for the students.
Growing Towards Wellness (Bunbury, WA) Growing Towards Wellness (GTW) is a not-for-profit organisation that delivers a specialised and specifically designed program to support community members living with a disability (primarily mental illness) by connecting them to mainstream community life. It is committed to engaging an extremely marginalised and disenfranchised group of people to re-engage with community, achieve nationally recognised qualifications, gain employment and continue their journey of recovery.
Down Syndrome Victoria (Fitzroy) The Down Syndrome Inclusion Support Service aims to ensure students with Down syndrome reach their full potential by providing practical hands on support, resources and skills to teachers and support staff responsible for meeting their learning needs.

Excellence in Improving Health Outcomes

Miss Naomi Snell (Bayswater Nth, Vic) Naomi Snell is the Founder and CEO of Paws For Purrfect Patient (Pet) Therapy providing emergency accommodation, shelter and veterinary assistance to pets of mental health consumers experiencing crisis.
Ms Susan Race (St Albans, Vic) Susan Race has led the development of an innovative hospital discharge planning process that aims to ensure individuals with disability and complex health needs successfully return to the community and avoid long stays in hospital.
MNDAware (Gladesville, NSW) The Motor Neurone Disease Association of NSW (MND NSW) has developed an online, interactive training program for disability and community workers internationally to gain a better understanding of individuals’ needs and services available.