RIAC congratulates the 2016 winners for the 10th National Disability Awards

The below individuals, organisations, services and initiatives have been announced as the 2016 winners for the 10th National Disability Awards.

Lesley Hall Leadership Award
Maurice Corcoran AM, SA

Maurice Corcoran has been an advocate for people with disability for more than 30 years. In 2006 he was made a member of the Order of Australia for his sustained service to people with disability and contribution to the development of national standards for Accessible Public Transport.

He played a key role in the development of the National Disability Strategy, and has worked tirelessly to break down barriers, increase recognition and challenge issues facing people with disability.

Maurice is passionate about access to public transport for people with disability. From 1994-2000, he was the National Disability Representative on the national taskforce on Accessible Public Transport Standards and the Federal Attorney-General’s Steering Committee on Accessible Public Transport.

Maurice has received a National Award from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission for his work on developing transport standards.

Employer of the year Award
Brisbane City Council, QLD

Brisbane City Council is leading the way in delivering accessible and inclusive practices. DisABILITY ACTION at WORK is a work intervention program run by Brisbane City Council.

The program empowers people with disability to apply for the Council’s employment opportunities by providing support and resources throughout the process.

Since the program’s inception, 75 per cent of graduated participants have gained ongoing employment or further education in their chosen field. After the first year of the program (June 2016), 80 per cent of graduates have moved into ongoing employment or further education. The Council continues to endeavour to provide a pathway for people with disability to establish their career foundations in Brisbane.

Excellence in Community Partnerships Award
The Dementia Friendly Kiama Project, Kiama Municipal Council, NSW

The Dementia Friendly Kiama (DFK) Project supports people with dementia to live in a supportive, friendly and inclusive community. The project’s innovative pilot program is a partnership between Kiama Council, The University of Wollongong, Alzheimer’s Australia and the Kiama community. The project uses an Action Research Model to track progress, and works within a community development framework, driven by people living with dementia in Kiama.

As a result of the DFK Project, there has been increased awareness and understanding of dementia in the community, including local businesses and service organisations, with more than 300 people trained in dementia awareness and more than 150 people trained to be a dementia friend.

Excellence in Inclusive Community Design Award
Shire of Collie, WA

The Collie Miners Memorial Pool upgrades. The Shire of Collie has been selected as a finalist forExcellence in Inclusive Community Design for the upgrade and development of new infrastructure in the central business district to improve public buildings and facilities for people with disability.
All improvements and new infrastructure include innovative design and have been completed to the highest standard of accessibility.
Improvements to the town include an upgrade to the existing 50m Olympic-size swimming pool that now includes a purpose-built ramp access that is suitable for both wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility. Another inclusion is a beach access leisure pool incorporating various automated water play equipment.

The Shire of Collie takes inclusivity seriously and that means providing universal access. The Shire of Collie strives to make its town more accessible by promoting a diverse, sustainable, and inclusive community where people want to live, visit and invest.

The development of new infrastructure in the central business district has seen improvements to public buildings and facilities for people with disability.

The town’s 50m Olympic-size swimming pool now includes purpose-built ramp access, suitable for both wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility, and the inclusion of beach access to the leisure pool that incorporates various automated water play equipment.


At Determined2, participants experience a unique, safe and exciting program that enables people living with disability, injury or a medical condition to experience freedom of movement in a weightless environment.

The specially designed Immersion Therapy™ Program draws on the therapeutic benefits of being weightless, while people living with disability, injury or a medical condition enjoy a variety of fun and exciting activities in the comfort of their local pool.

The program is tailored to the needs of each individual and effectively removes barriers for people with disability, increases inclusion, and provides physical, psychological and social benefits like never before. The program has no out-of-pocket cost for participants.

Nightlife Disability Services, VIC
Joint Winner

Nightlife Disability Service has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Community Partnerships Award for enabling people with disability to remain living in their own home, by providing flexible, responsive, night-time support.
Nightlife delivers a consumer-driven mobile and on-call personal care service that is tailored to each person’s individual needs. Nightlife operates 365 days per year, delivering high-quality night-time support for periods upwards of 30 minutes.

Nightlife is a unique service in that it provides support for short periods throughout the night, preventing the need for more costly and cumbersome support, such as extended evening shifts, sleep-overs or congregate care. This support can be provided at times that fit the chosen life of the individual being supported and not the constraints of the service providing support. This service model supports each person’s independence and choice, therefore reducing their reliance on partners, family or friends.

Nightlife Disability Services understands that people with disability often rely on support from family members, or an extended support network at night. The Nightlife service model supports each person’s independence and choice, therefore reducing their reliance on partners, family or friends.

The service delivers a unique consumer-driven personal care service that is tailored to the individual’s needs. The service operates 365 days per year, delivering high-quality drop in and on-call support throughout the night. Nightlife currently provides mobile assistance to over 25 people with disability, having supported more than 50 people in its 10 year history.

Excellence in Technology Award
Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi, Healthcare Innovations Australia, NSW

Dr Peter Abolfathi has developed technology, known as the Exoflex, which has the ability to bring function to paralysed or damaged hand. Through this invention, Dr Abolfathi has given people recovering from injury or partial paralysis (specifically Tetraplegics) the ability to recover basic performance including grasp and release functionality using their own limbs.

The Exoflex is a device worn on the hand that can manipulate and mobilise hand joints in a highly controlled and safe manner for exercise, rehabilitation and eventually function. Dr Abolfathi envisions this same mechanism will eventually be used for other parts of the body, including the legs.

It is anticipated that the Exoflex will be available worldwide by the middle of 2017.

Excellence in Education and Training Award
Tagai State College Student Support Services Team, QLD

Tagai State College is comprised of 16 primary campuses and one secondary campus, located on 15 islands and spread throughout 48,000 km² of the Torres Strait.

The College’s approach to supporting students with disability has proven to be effective in determining appropriate support personnel, through a referral and case management model and ensuring a coordinated, consistent and cohesive approach to education for students with disability.

This cultural shift has resulted in a cohesive support network for students with disability and their families.

This system ensures individual educational needs are met within remote and complex contexts and across varying environments.

Excellence in Justice and Rights Protection Award
Kerri Cassidy, Chronic Cerebro Spinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) Australia,
Joint Winner

Kerri Cassidy is a dedicated advocate for justice and rights protection for people with disability, especially people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Kerri has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of equitable access to angioplasty treatment for Chronic Cerebro Spinal Venous Insufficiency, a condition where the veins in the brain are impaired. This treatment has been found to alleviate many of the debilitating symptoms of MS, but financial assistance through

Medicare is not available to MS patients.

Kerri has strived for change and has been responsible for initiating a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to prove the effectiveness of the procedure for MS patients. She has also instigated a clinical study and raised over $320,000 to fund further research. Kerri’s hard work has resulted in thousands of people with MS around the globe seeing significant improvements in their quality of life.

Kairsty Wilson, AED Legal Centre, VIC
Joint Winner

Over the last 15 years, Kairsty Wilson’s belief in justice has seen her strive to be a pioneer in human rights protection for people with disability. In 2008, Kairsty was instrumental in founding the AED Legal Centre, a state-wide community legal service based in the Melbourne CBD.

She is an advocate, especially in the areas of workplace discrimination or disadvantage, promoting inclusion and participation in employment, education and training, and increasing community awareness while promoting better community attitudes towards people with disability.

Kairsty also appears on behalf of clients including the Australian Human Rights Commission, Fair Work Commission, Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Magistrates Court.

View the Media Release by the Hon Jane Prentice MP, 7 November 2016.

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