Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Inaugural national disability awards announced

Joint Media Release with:

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

Jenny Macklin and Bill Shorten today congratulated the recipients and finalists of the inaugural National Disability Awards announced last night at a special ceremony in Canberra.

The National Disability Awards 2007 recognise the achievement of people with disability and their fantastic contribution to the community.

Over 290 nominations were received for the inaugural Awards – all highlighting the wonderful achievements of people with disability and those who support them.
This year’s Awards were held on the International Day of People with Disability – a global day that celebrates the achievement of people with disability.

Ms Macklin and Mr Shorten were thrilled that they were able to attend the Awards – their first official function as Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services.

Ms Macklin said that the night was a wonderful celebration of the achievements of Australians with disability.

“Congratulations to all of the award recipients and all of the finalists who were recognised at last night’s special event for their outstanding contributions to our community,” Ms Macklin said.

Mr Shorten said that the evening presented a fantastic opportunity to meet with the Award recipients, their families, carers and members of the disability sector.

“I am keen to continue the conversation about the issues important to people with disability and I look forward to working with the sector to help build opportunities for Australians with disabilities in the future,” Mr Shorten said.

The Inaugural National Disability Award recipients:

Community Contribution Award – Keith Hayes
Keith was the first blind student in WA to obtain economics and education degrees and went on to be a TAFE lecturer for 25 years; at times acting as chief examiner and acting head of department.

Keith has been an inspirational role model to his peers and the broader community, contributing to the disability sector in WA over a period of 30 years, serving on a number of State and Commonwealth Ministerial advisory committees.

Young Community Contribution Award – Michael Curran
Michael has a passion for computer programming, coupled with the belief that people with disability should not have to pay extra cost for assistive software. This led him to develop assistive software programs.

The most successful is called Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), a free and open source screen reader. Michael has also assisted in establishing a non-profit organisation called NV Access to act as a fundraising body to provide both support to projects that create free, open source assistive technology for people who are blind or vision impaired.

Inclusion Award – Dawn Brooks
Dawn was one of five people who recognised the need for an organisation for people with acquired brain injury in South Australia and took action to establish the Brain Injury Network of SA.

A Churchill Fellowship recipient, Dawn introduced the Canadian ARBI model of community rehabilitation in South Australia, based on the use of volunteers guided by allied health professionals. This led to the implementation of the ‘Springboard’ program which is considered unique in Australia.

Go Getter Award – Darren Lomman
Darren is passionate about using his engineering background and entrepreneurial flair to help people with disability participate in activities and fulfil their dreams.

Darren spent three years designing and building a hand controlled motorcycle after meeting a paraplegic who wished to one day ride a motorcycle again.

Darren’s Dreamfit Foundation has worked on a number of innovative recreation and leisure products, such as a joystick controlled hovercraft, hand controlled driving simulator, wheelchair accessible yachts and speed boats, an abseiling tower and a seated surfboard.

Personal Achievement Award – Joel Satherley
Despite having Cerebral Palsy and Autism, Joel has a popular weekly radio show, is preparing for a major art exhibition, performs as a busker and has recorded his own CD of original music.

Joel regularly presents his story at disability conferences and demonstrates how being in a supportive environment leads to an inclusive life. He also explains that having an inclusive mainstream education assists in becoming a highly valued and contributing community member.

“Australians should applaud all nominees, finalists and award recipients, their outstanding contributions have made a telling difference in people’s lives across the country,” Mr Shorten said.

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