The much-awaited winners of the 10th annual National Disability Awards have been announced.

Last month saw the announcement of the much-awaited winners of the 10th annual National Disability Awards.

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.

As a working carer, it is important for you to know about the good work being done right around Australia so that you can go back to the organisations with whom you work, or the organisations that provide care and support for your loved one, and share with them the amazing possibilities out there.

For example, just think how your life might change if there was an organisation in your town that had a 75 per cent success rate in helping people with disability get a job.

Well, Brisbane City Council has won a National Disability Award for doing just that. So if they can do it, why can’t councils right across Australia? Why not talk to your local councillors and ask them to find out how Brisbane City Council does it?

Or what about getting your whole town behind dementia awareness and making it dementia friendly? If the Kiama community can do it in partnership with key stakeholders, so can YOUR town. Call a meeting of interested people and get the ball rolling.

Do you live by the sea? Do you think people with disability should be able to enjoy the beach like everyone else? Well another National Disability Award winner does too. The Shire of Collie in WA leads the way in improving accessibility for all. They can share their knowledge – if only someone asks them!

The Excellence in Inclusive Service Delivery Award was won by a SA organisation who have pioneered ‘underwater immersion therapy’ – a unique opportunity for people living with a disability, injury or medical condition to experience freedom of movement in a weightless environment. Determined2 has developed a safe way to scuba dive in the clear warm waters of a local swimming pool. Wow! It could be replicated in any community with a heated swimming pool.

How fantastic would it be if someone could take your loved one out at night? Well, that is just what another award winner does. 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.

The Excellence in Technology Award was won by a doctor who has spent a lifetime developing the Exoflex, a hand therapy device which helps people with paralysed or damaged hands to grab and release objects. Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi’s team hopes that in the not-too-distant future, the mechanism will be used to help move other body parts such as the legs.

Indigenous students with disability have benefitted from a program that could easily be introduced to all schools in Australia. Tagai State College won a National Disability Award for leading the way in showing how a school can successfully meet 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.

The Excellence in Justice and Rights Protection Award went to Kerri Cassidy, 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.

Also a winner in this category, 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.

The Lesley Hall Leadership Award was won by Maurice Corcoran 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.

There were over 120 nominations for this year’s National Disability Awards, part of the Australian Government’s International Day of People with Disability Celebrations, held on December 3 each year.

You can read all about the amazing and inspiring award winners here: