Australia: 2011 National Disability Awards Recipients Announced

The 2011 National Disability Awards have been announced, with nine individuals and organisations recognised for their work to improve the lives of people with disability at a gala dinner at Parliament House.

More than 270 people attended the dinner which saw outstanding grassroots campaigners, businesses and local governments that provide jobs for people with disability, social housing providers, and a national park organisation committed to accessibility all take home awards.

 Speaking at the gala dinner in Canberra, Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulated each of the recipients for their "outstanding and lasting contribution to the disability sector."

More than 400 nominations were received from Not for Profit organisations, businesses, local governments and disability advocates for this year's awards - more than double the number from 2010.

Gillard presented a special 'Prime Minister's Outstanding Achievement Award' to John Walsh, who she said played a pivotal role as an Associate Commissioner in preparing the Productivity Commission's report to Government on long-term disability care and support which recommended the establishment of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The 2011 National Disability Award Winners:

Minister's Lifelong Achievement Award--Frank Hall-Bentick, Richmond, Vic

A grassroots campaigner for the rights of people with disability, Frank Hall-Bentick has contributed to improving human rights for people with disability for more than thirty years. He played a pivotal role in the development of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and successfully lobbied for its ratification in Australia in 2008.

Young Disability Challenge Award--Katrina Lancaster, Parramatta, NSW

Katrina Lancaster was the recipient of the 2011 Parramatta Lord Mayor's Youth Award, completed a Bachelor of Community Welfare, and was named Deaf Australia's 2009 Deaf Youth of the Year for her work and volunteer commitments with the deaf community.

Business Award--Alcoa Aluminium Smelter, Geelong, Vic

Partnering with Kommercial, a local Australian Disability Enterprise, Alcoa Point Henry provides supported employment for more than 30 people with disability, and has teamed up with highly regarded children's program Rainbow Riders, an equine-assisted growth and learning centre.

Local Government Award--City of Mandurah, WA

The City of Mandurah is working closely with Intework to create exciting and rewarding jobs for 44 young people with intellectual disability in areas such as community equipment maintenance, environmental clean-up, gardening and repairs.

Social Inclusion Award--Technical Aid to the Disabled Incorporated, ACT

TADACT is a Not for Profit organisation, which specialises in creating or modifying equipment for people with disability, including a Kinetic Stander, which won the 2010 Australian Institute of Project Management Award in the Not for Profit category within the ACT.

Inclusive and Accessible Communities Award--Housing Choices Australia, Melbourne, Vic

Housing Choices Australia has delivered more social housing over the past two years than any other community housing provider in Victoria, including 100 high-quality units for people with disability.

Health and Wellbeing Award--Parks Victoria, Melbourne, Vic

Parks Victoria has actively embraced universal design and access principles, including introducing all-terrain wheelchair equipment in some parks and a Sailability program. Parks Victoria has also developed an accessibility guide for park rangers and grants to community organisations to help improve visitation and participation.

Yooralla Media Award for Excellence--Nance Haxton, Ethelton, SA

Nance is seen as one of Australia's most lauded radio journalists. The judges noted her relentless, powerful and timely coverage of people with an intellectual disability, and commended her work as an important contribution to the advancement of disability rights.

The National Disability Awards form part of the Australian Government's celebration of the United Nations' International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) which is held each year on 3 December.

The judges for the awards included Australian of the Year and patron of IDPwD, Simon McKeon, and five of the six Disability Community Leaders, appointed by the Australian Government to champion the cause of people with disability within their local communities.

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