Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Five outstanding Australians receive National Disability Awards

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon. Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services

The achievements and contribution of five outstanding Australians have been recognised with National Disability Awards presented in Canberra tonight.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs , Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, tonight announced the recipients of the 2008 National Disability Awards.

Bill Bradley, Anne McDonald, Amethyst Barnbrook, Katherine Fisher and Sarah Cullen were presented with the awards at a ceremony at Parliament House to celebrate International Day of People with Disability.

“These awards are an opportunity for us all to reflect on and celebrate the remarkable achievements and contribution of people with disability and those who support them,” Ms Macklin.

“I congratulate the 240 nominees for the awards, the finalists and the winners in each of the five categories.

“Their lives are testament to their great strength, resilience and determination – the same qualities shown by hundreds of thousands of Australians who live, work and achieve with disability, every day of their lives.”

Parliamentary Secretary Bill Shorten said the nominees, finalists, and winners were an inspiration.

“Working with States and Territories, the Australian Government is working to break down barriers of access, discrimination and exclusion faced by the amazing Australians here this evening,” Mr Shorten said.

“People with disability deserve improved, better-targeted services that are simpler to access and respond to their changing needs.”

2008 National Disability Award winners

Community Contribution Award – Bill Bradley

Bill has made substantial contributions to the community through his inspirational sports leadership and mentoring roles.

After contracting polio at age 14, Bill turned his love of sport towards the goal of helping others and in 1955 he established the famous Belrose Rugby League Club where he has helped many young people focus on what they can achieve, rather than what they can’t.

Young Community Contribution Award – Sarah Cullen

Sarah, 24, is an active advocate for stroke survivors and, in association with the Stroke Recovery Association of NSW, recently launched ‘Different Strokes’ a stroke recovery club which provides support for young stroke survivors and their carers.

Sarah’s physical, sensory and cognitive difficulties, resulting from two strokes, has not discouraged her and she has completed a Bachelor of Speech and Hearing Sciences, speaks at numerous stroke management and transition care conferences and uses her personal experiences to assist the Greater Metropolitan Clinical Taskforce in its support of young people transitioning from paediatric to adult health care services.

Inclusion Award – Katherine Fisher

Katherine is a teacher who has dedicated 24 years to supporting students with disability, often enabling them to achieve beyond their expectations.

A Special Education Coordinator at Aberfoyle Park High School in South Australia, Katherine has expanded inclusive education opportunities and helped students move beyond limiting stereotypes.

Go Getter Award – Amethyst Barnbrook

At only 19 years of age, Amethyst is an accomplished sportsperson and musician. She writes, sails and plays the trumpet using her three toes, and her musical talent has taken her as far as Japan to play with the Yamaha Youth Orchestra.

Her determination to sail in the Paralympics motivated the Access Dinghy Foundation to launch a campaign to allow people with profound disability to compete at the highest level. Amethyst is training hard to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London after coming 4th at the World SKUD titles in Singapore this year.

Personal Achievement Award – Anne McDonald

Anne was born with cerebral palsy and at age of three was admitted to the St Nicholas Hospital state institution, unable to walk, talk or feed herself. Eventually Anne learnt to communicate by pointing to letters on an alphabet board and at 18 years old went to court to win her freedom from St Nicholas.
She has since written a bestselling book, graduated from university with a Humanities degree and dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of people who can not talk.

To find out more about the National Disability Awards, go to International Day of People with Disability website