News | 9 November 2016

And the winners are…

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Last night’s 10th annual National Disability Awards have celebrated the champions of the disability sector for 2016.

The awards recognise organisations and individuals who have made an outstanding contribution towards improving the lives of people with disability, their families and carers.

This year winners have been selected from a wide range of areas, from social justice advocacy to the development of new technology, innovative therapies and inclusive communities.

This year there were over 120 nominations, and the ten award winners are:

Employer of the Year

  • Brisbane City Council

Brisbane City Council’s Disability Action at Work program provides support and resources for people with disability to apply for jobs. The program has had great results: 75 per cent of participants have gained ongoing employment after graduating.

Excellence in Community Partnership

  • The Dementia Friendly Kiama Project, NSW

The NSW town of Kiama is on its way to becoming Australia’s first dementia friendly community, thanks to a pilot program run in partnership with the Kiama Council, the University of Wollongong, Alzheimer’s Australia and the Kiama community. People with dementia and their carers are at the heart of the project. So far, more than 300 people have been trained in dementia awareness, 150 have been trained to be a “dementia friend,” and community-wide initiatives have ranged from training council workers to easy-to-understand signs on bathroom doors.

  • Shire of Collie, WA

The Shire of Collie in Western Australia won the Excellence in Inclusive Community Design Award for its development of new accessible infrastructure and improvements to public buildings for people with disability. For example, the town now benefits from a purpose-built ramp for the town Olympic swimming pool as well as beach access and automated water play equipment in the leisure pool.

Excellence in Inclusive Service Delivery

  • Determined2, SA

This Adelaide-based organisation is revolutionising treatment for people with paralysis, cerebral palsy and autism through immersion therapy. The specially-designed equipment allows people to discover new freedom of movement and improves lives by reducing pain and improving general wellbeing and mental health.

  • Nightlife Disability Service, VIC

The unique model delivered by Nightlife Disability Service provides a high quality and individualised personal care service at night time, supporting independence and choice and reducing reliance on caregivers. It provides drop in and on call support throughout the night and has helped more than 50 people in its ten-year history.

Excellence in Technology

  • Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi, Healthcare Innovations Australia, NSW

Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi’s team developed the Exoflex, a hand therapy device which helps people with paralysed or damaged hands to grab and release objects. The therapy tool can be used at home, filling a void in the market. The Exoflex is expected to be available worldwide by the middle of next year, and eventually, Dr Abolfathi hopes the mechanism will be used for other body parts such as the legs.

Excellence in Education and Training

  • Tagai State College Student Support Services Team, QLD

The support team at this Torres Straight island college, which includes 17 campuses spread over 15 islands, has successfully met individual education needs for students with disability within remote and complex contexts. Their model of referral and case management has ensured a coordinated, cohesive approach to education and resulted in a strong support network for students with disability and their families.

Excellence in Justice and Rights Protection

  • Kerri Cassidy, Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), Vic

Kerri Cassidy is a long-time advocate for equitable access to angioplasty treatment for Chronic Cerebro Spinal Venous Insufficiency. This treatment is not available through Medicare. Since her own life was dramatically improved by the treatment, she has successfully fought for a medical trial to prove its effectiveness and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause.

  • Kairsty Wilson, AED Legal Centre, VIC

Social justice advocate Kairsty Wilson has committed the past 15 years to human rights protection for people with disability, including in the areas of workplace discrimination, employment inclusion and education and training. She has played an important role in increasing community awareness and promoting better community attitudes towards people with disability.

Lesley Hall Leadership Award

  • Maurice Corcoran AM, SA

Maurice Corcoran received the Lesley Hall Leadership Award for three decades of work improving the lives of people with disability after a car accident left him a quadriplegic. He is currently the Principal Community Visitor of SA’s Community Visitor Scheme and is calling for a greater focus on employment for people with disability.

The National Disability Awards are part of the Australian Government’s International Day of People with Disability Celebrations, held on December 3 each year. Find out more at

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