Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australian Government appoints Disability Community Leaders

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

Six Australians will champion the cause of people with disability following their appointment by the Australian Government to promote the 2011 International Day of People with Disability and National Disability Awards.

The Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today announced six Disability Community Leaders from across Australia. They are:

  • Ms Suzanne Colbert AM – Sydney, NSW
  • Mr Michael Taggart – Salisbury, SA
  • Mr Peter Verwer – Sydney, NSW
  • Ms Ariane Garner-Williams – 18 years old, Balwyn North VIC
  • Mr Danny Dickson – 13 years old, Collingwood, Victoria
  • Mr Josh Alford – 15 years old, Cooma, NSW

The Disability Community Leaders will help promote and raise awareness of the 2011 International Day of People with Disability and National Disability Awards within their communities and participate in local and regionally based events in the lead up to these two important annual events.

“Each one is a leader in their own community. Whether it be personally or through their work, they are helping to break down the barriers of access, discrimination and exclusion faced by Australians with disability,” Ms Macklin said.

Ms Macklin and Senator McLucas congratulated them on their appointment.

“They’re not celebrities, they’re not famous; these Disability Community Leaders are six spirited individuals who do wonderful work in their local communities quietly and without any fuss,” Senator McLucas said.

The leaders include Ms Colbert and Mr Taggart, both former National Disability Awards finalists, who have made major contributions to the disability sector through their work.

As founder and Chief Executive of the Australian Network on Disability, Ms Colbert has spent more than 20 years building employment opportunities for people with disability.

Mr Taggart is a disability advocate and leader, and a driving force for disability accessibility in local government.

The youngest of the Disability Community Leaders, Danny Dickson who is just 13 years old, was co-MC at the launch of Children with Disability Australia in 2010, and has also appeared on national television promoting International Day of People with Disability in 2010.

International Day of People With Disability, on 3 December, and the National Disability Awards celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disability.

For more information about the International Day of People with Disability and the National Disability Awards, or to register an International Day event, visit or call 1800 440 385.