Media Release by Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

Aussie ambassadors for International Day of People with Disability

A range of people from the celebrity, sporting, business and community fields have been appointed as the patron and ambassadors for this year’s International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD).

Speaking at the National Disability Advocacy Conference in Melbourne today, Minister for Community Services Nigel Scullion, announced that Paula Duncan would be the patron for IDPwD 2007.

‘The patron and ambassadors, will be involved in the promotion of both the day of celebration and the inaugural National Disability Awards, to be held on 3 December 2007,’ Senator Scullion said.

‘Paula Duncan has been highly commended for her work with Australian charities, in particular people with disability, and we are proud to have her on board as this year’s patron.

‘She is Ambassador for Special Olympics Australia and was nominated for the Australia Day Award for her work with people with disability.

‘Paula has a long history in Australian television, from her early television roles such as Cop Shop, Prisoner, Neighbours, Richmond Hill, Home & Away, Mother and Son and Paradise Beach to movie roles including, Strange Bedfellows.
‘She has appeared regularly on lifestyle programmes such as The Midday Show and proudly claims seven Logies as her own, including Best Actress, Most Popular Actress and Most Popular Personality.’
The IDPwD 2007 ambassadors are:

  • Tony Purkiss has survived four near death experiences, the last of which was the terrorist bombing in Bali where he became blind. Tony competes in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race with the Sailors with Disabilities team, and currently works as a motivational speaker.
  • Mark Bagshaw is a person with quadriplegia and a senior executive at IBM Australia. His work was recently recognised by Rotary International and the Australian Humanitarian Foundation, awarding him the Australian Humanitarian Award for Business.
  • Amy Winters is one of Australia’s most successful Paralympic athletes, and has won medals at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. She currently works for Special Olympics Australia.
  • Dr George Taleporos is a person with spinal muscular atrophy. George holds a PhD in Psychology and a first class honours degree in Sociology. He is an experienced trainer in disability awareness, is a committed disability advocate and stars in the community television program ‘No Limits’, which looks at living life to the fullest with a disability.
  • Phillip Herreen is a person with paraplegia who is a former award winning speedway driver. He received Senior Australian of the Year in 2007 for his role as a mentor for people who have become disabled through accidents and as a volunteer facilitator helping young people in trouble for driving and other offences.
  • Fiona Cullen is a champion 100 metre hurdler and is a 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games finalist. She is an Ambassador for Seeing Eye Dogs Australia and has been involved in many disability causes and events.
  • Lara Hollow-Williams was awarded the 2005 QLD Deaf Sportswoman of the Year, in recognition of her achievements in the World Blind Championships, the Deaflympics and the Paralympics. Lara was recently the Marketing Manager for Seeing Eye Dogs QLD.
  • Rebecca Woods has a sister who is a person with Down Syndrome. She is a professional surfer and has been a finalist in many international surfing competitions all over the world.

‘We have also appointed local Community Ambassadors for IDPwD 2007 who have been drawn from a wide cross-section of the Australian community and will be helping their local communities celebrate the day by encouraging participation and raising awareness of IDPwD.

‘The patron, ambassadors and community ambassadors reflect the real achievements of people from around the country who live with disability, their own or that of a family member or friend.

‘I look forward to working with these inspirational Australians, and to meet them at the Awards night in December- an event to recognise and celebrate people with disability, and those who support them,’ Senator Scullion said.

Visit the IDPwD websiteExternal Site for more information about International Day of People with Disability, the National Disability Awards and the patron, ambassadors and community ambassadors for the celebration.