Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Therese Rein and Kurt Fearnley – champions for people with disability

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Therese Rein will be the official Patron of International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) and the National Disability Awards in 2009.

Paralympian, Kurt Fearnley will become the 2009 Ambassador for People with Disability.

Families and Community Services Minister, Jenny Macklin said Ms Rein and Mr Fearnley’s commitment would raise awareness of the significant contribution made by people with disability as well as the challenges they face.

“International Day of People with Disability is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the remarkable achievements of Australians with disability across so many sectors,” Ms Macklin said.

“In sport, people like Kurt Fearnley who won gold, bronze and silver at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games show that disability is not a barrier to achieving at the highest levels.”

Ms Rein said she was looking forward to lending her voice to promote such a significant day.

“I encourage all Australians to get involved and celebrate the many remarkable individuals with disability, and the people who contribute to improving the lives of people with disability,” Ms Rein said.

“My father was involved in the International Year of Disabled People in 1981. As a paraplegic he knew personally the challenges of physical accessibility to buildings and public facilities and, along with Mum, creatively solved many of those problems.

“As a Paralympian, he taught me how important it is to be dedicated to excellence and being the best you can be in everything you do.

“As an aeronautical engineer, he demonstrated what people with disabilities can contribute through the world of work.

“As a father, he showed that parents with disabilities are as loving as any other parent. He inspires me.”

Held on 3 December each year, International Day of People with Disability is a United Nations sanctioned day that promotes inclusion and highlights the contributions people with disability make to their communities on a local, national and international level.

The National Disability Awards form part of the Australian Government’s celebration of International Day of People with Disability.

, Bill Shorten is encouraging all Australians to nominate someone remarkable for an award.

“The National Disability Awards are a chance to recognise those who have made a real difference to the lives of people with disability,” Mr Shorten said.

Nominations for the 2009 awards have been extended, and close on Monday 22 June.

Information on International Day of People with Disability, and how to nominate for a National Disability Award, is available at International Day of People with Disability website ( or by phoning 1800 440 385.