Media Release by The Hon Sarah Henderson MP

Storytellers with disability awarded ABC scholarship

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, Sarah Henderson, has today announced the two winners of the ABC Regional Storyteller Scholarship.

As part of the celebrations for International Day of People with Disability and through the Employ their Ability campaign, the Australian Government has matched ABC’s commitment to the Regional Storyteller Scholarship, providing $60,000 in funding over two years to support the scholarship.

Catherine Mahony of Newcastle and Marlena Katene of the Gold Coast were awarded the scholarships, leading a strong pool of applicants nationally.

“The talent displayed has been outstanding. Both winners are passionate storytellers, sharing powerful and positive stories,” Ms Henderson said.

“This scholarship provides an opportunity to showcase the creativity and initiative of people with disability through regional media.

“People with disability across Australia will be inspired by the winners to pursue opportunities that interest them,” Ms Henderson said.    

“The voices of people with disability are still under-represented in the media. This scholarship is a great example of the Australian Government and ABC’s commitment to breaking down barriers for people with disability in the broader community,” Ms Mahony said.

“The scholarship will enable me to explore and share the social issues facing people with disability from an authentic perspective.”

Marlena Katene from the Gold Coast hopes to develop a series about accessibility at music festivals and gigs for people with disability, with the support of the ABC, through the scholarship.

“I love telling stories. I am keen to highlight how easy it can be for us all to develop more inclusive and accessible venues for people with disability,” Ms Katene said.  

“I am a firm believer in starting locally and growing from there. This scholarship allows me to continue developing my skills and sharing my story, which will hopefully have a positive impact on the audience.”

The Acting Director of ABC Regional & Local, Judith Whelan, said the ABC was delighted to partner with the Australian Government and to see the scholarship expand to two recipients in its second year.

“The scholarship has such an important place in the hearts and minds of our regional team,” Ms Whelan said.

“Through the wonderful contributions of our first scholarship recipient in 2018, Eliza Hull, we have been able to bring our audiences stories about disability, produced by people with disability. Stories that would otherwise not have been told.”  

Eliza Hull from Castlemaine in Victoria, has been working with the ABC in Bendigo. Ms Hull has produced an eight-part radio series on ABC Radio National, Life Matters, as well as writing a series of online articles for ABC Life.

For more information about International Day of People with Disability visit

For more information on the Employ their Ability campaign visit