Media Release by The Hon Jane Prentice MP

Winners announced for the 2017 National Disability Awards

The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, the Hon Jane Prentice MP, has tonight announced this year’s 2017 National Disability Awards winners at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

Minister Prentice congratulated the five winners acknowledging their outstanding achievements to improve the lives of people with disability.

“These passionate and hardworking individuals and organisations have been commended for making Australia a more inclusive and accepting place,” Mrs Prentice said.

“This year, the Awards recognised a range of initiatives and programs, from a social enterprise using the power of 3D printing to creative assistive technology; to individuals fighting for inclusion of people with disability in the media,” Mrs Prentice said.

National Disability Awards are a major part of the Australian Government’s celebration of International Day of People with Disability, a United Nations sanctioned day marked on 3 December each year. This year is the 25th anniversary of International Day of People with Disability.

“The Awards honour and recognise the hard work and achievements of every day Australians that are making a real difference in their communities,” Mrs Prentice said.

More than 140 nominations were received for the 2017 awards, from which 12 finalists and five winners were selected by an independent judging panel.

The 2017 National Disability Award winners are:

  • Compass Group, QLD
  • Employer of the Year Award
  • Catia Malaquias, WA
  • Community Excellence Award
  • AbilityMate, NSW
  • Excellence in Innovation Award
  • University of Sydney—Centre of Disability Studies
  • Excellence in Education and Training Award
  • Sue Salthouse, ACT
  • Lesley Hall Leadership Award

Information on the winners

Compass Group

Compass Group is Australia’s leading food services company, employing more than 10,000 people at over 480 locations across Australia. Compass Group Australia is committed to giving people living with disability the opportunity to compete equitably for employment and enjoy satisfying careers. Through consultation with disability support agencies, Compass Group has developed a comprehensive program to support the successful transition of new employees with disability into employment.

Catia Malaquias

Catia is an advocate working to ensure people with disability have equal access to educational opportunities, as well as representation in the media. She is a leading voice in Australia and internationally advocating for the inclusion of people with disability in mainstream advertising and media and has been involved in the inclusive advertising efforts of Kmart and Target in the last 18 months. Catia has also co-founded the Global Alliance for Disability in Media, which she helped launch in 2016 at the United Nations in Geneva.


AbilityMate is a social enterprise that combines the power of 3D printing with human-centred design to co-create assistive technology with Australians with disability. In recent years, AbilityMate has undertaken a number of initiatives that focus on improving accessibility and innovating new assistive products. AbilityMate collaborates with people with disability, their families, healthcare providers and mission-driven organisations to ensure its products are human-centred, clinically safe and fulfil the needs of the community. AbilityMate is focused on ensuring that custom-made assistive products can be accessed affordably by all.

University of Sydney—Centre of Disability Studies

uni 2 beyond is a two-year initiative that supports people with intellectual disability to experience university life at the University of Sydney. Students attend lectures and tutorials of their choice as audit students, and participate in university social life through engagement with mentors and other peers. In recent years, the uni 2 beyond initiative has expanded to offer service-learning projects and employment internships to students. It is one of only two inclusive education initiatives that operate within Australian universities and is the only one to offer internship opportunities.

Sue Salthouse

Sue is a leading advocate for change. The realisation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people with disabilities are on her agenda. She has extensive experience in advocacy and leadership roles in promoting equality for women and the full inclusion of people with disabilities in society. Sue has had many opportunities through her various positions including Chair of Women with Disabilities ACT, ACT Official Visitor for Disability and Co-chair of the ACT Disability Expert Panel advising the ACT Government on the implementation of the National Disability Strategy and the National Disability Insurance Scheme to partner with like-minded colleagues in furthering this work.

For more information about the 2017 National Disability Awards winners and finalists, visit