The We are thrilled to announce that CCSVI Australia CEO, Kerri Cassidy, has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Justice and Rights Protection Award for her long-term commitment to promoting justice and rights protection for people with disability.  This is a reflection of her work in raising awareness and calling for equitable access to treatment for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) for people with Multiple Sclerosis., This is an international celebration sanctioned by the United Nations.  The purpose is to celebrate the contributions of people with disability, increase public awareness and break down structural and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.

The below 22 individuals, organisations, services and initiatives have been selected as the 2016 finalists for the 10th National Disability Awards.

1. Employer of the Year (4 finalists)

2. Excellence in Community Partnerships (4 finalists)

3. Excellence in Inclusive Community Design (4 finalists)

4. Excellence in Inclusive Service Delivery (2 finalists)

5. Excellence in Accessible Technology (4 finalists)

6. Excellence in Education and Training (2 finalists)

7. Excellence in Justice and Rights Protection (2 finalists)

Kerri has demonstrated her determination and commitment to raising awareness about the need for justice and rights protection of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) through the equitable access to Chronic Cerebro Spinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) treatment.
The CCSVI 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 advocated for change and has been responsible for initiating a double-blinded placebo-controlled trial to prove the effectiveness of the procedure for MS patients. This has resulted in thousands of people with MS around the globe seeing significant improvements in their quality of life by undergoing the procedure. By any measure it is a monumental achievement to position our endeavors to improve the well being of those with MS along with many well resourced very large organisations - see the list. I suspect that we are the only 100% voluntary body of our type to became a category finalist, A great new foundation to build upon.

Kairsty Wilson, AED Legal Centre, VIC

Kairsty Wilson has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Justice and Rights Protection Award for her advocacy work over the last 10 years to increase access to justice for people with disability.

Kairsty has been a pioneer in human rights protection for people with disability and in 2008 was instrumental in the founding of the AED Legal Centre, a state-wide community legal service based in the Melbourne CBD. She is an advocate for improving the wages and working conditions of people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises.

Kairsty’s work in helping her clients and her fundraising efforts demonstrate her tireless commitment to people with disability.

 

Employer of the year Award

G-Force Contracting, WA

G-Force Contracting has been selected as a finalist for the Employer of the Year Award for its clear vision and support structure that allows people with disability to fill paid employment within a supportive environment.

G-Force currently specialises in both commercial and residential gardening and cleaning contracts, as well as confidential document shredding service. It is committed to assisting people with various disabilities to re-enter the workforce at full award rates of pay under the supervision of fully experienced staff and receives no government funding in doing so.

G-Force has placed approximately 35-40 people with disability into paid employment over the last three years alone. Plans are in place to grow the business in many other areas to continue with this same mission and offer more diversity for future employment opportunities.

Brisbane City Council, QLD

Brisbane City Council has been selected as a finalist for the Employer of the Year Award for the delivery of the Council’s workforce intervention program, DisABILITY ACTION at WORK.

Through the program, Brisbane City Council empowers participants through support and resources to apply for the Council’s employment opportunities. Since the program’s inception in 2014-2015, 80 per cent of the program graduates moved onto ongoing employment or further education. In June 2016, 80 per cent of the graduates have maintained employment or University studies. The program was repeated in 2015-2016 and shows signs of similar results with more than 76 per cent of participants already securing further employment or education.

The innovation and strength of the program is the fact that it is participant, rather than organisation-centric focussed, creating a workplace culture of inclusion, where people with disability are valued for their abilities and contributions to the workplace.

Griffith University, QLD

Griffith University has been selected as a finalist for the Employer of the Year Award for its commitment to workforce diversity and fostering an inclusive workplace culture.

Lifestart Co-operative Ltd, NSW

Lifestart has been selected as a finalist for the Employer of the Year Award for its outstanding commitment to ensuring positive and supportive adjustments to work arrangements for employees with disability.

Lifestart has provided support to a member of staff with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), whose needs constantly change. Lifestart has continued to address their physical needs to ensure their well-being within the work environment.

The changes made within Lifestart to support this person at work, reflect the high value Lifestart places on the welfare and support tools available for workers of all abilities.

Excellence in Community Partnerships

Taste Creative and Bus Stop Films, NSW

Taste Creative and Bus Stop Films has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Community Partnerships Award for its commitment to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for people with disability within the film industry.

For six years, Taste Creative and Bus Stop Films have worked to challenge the accepted notions of disability and create opportunities for equal participation and representation for people with disability within the film industry.

The workshops they provide world class education for students and foster inclusion in the broader film industry through engaging industry professionals as teachers and mentors.

As a result, Taste Creative and Bus Stop Films have enabled 77 successful work experience placements for people with intellectual disability on creative projects and campaigns, for behind and in front of the camera.

Accessible Arts, The Deaf Arts Network, NSW

Accessible Arts, The Deaf Arts Network (DAN) has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Community Partnerships Award for its work in breaking down the unique barriers faced by people with hearing impairment and hard of hearing disability.

DAN implements and manages a dynamic cultural and linguistic program that ensures people who are deaf and hard of hearing have access to professional opportunities in the Arts and greater access to cultural venues and performances in NSW.

This has resulted in DAN developing innovative and high profile partnerships and events with cultural organisations and performances in NSW.

The Dementia Friendly Kiama Project, Kiama Municipal Council, NSW

The Dementia Friendly Kiama (DFK) Project, Kiama Municipal Council has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Community Partnerships Award for the development of an innovative pilot with the aim of making Kiama one of Australia’s first dementia friendly communities.

The DFK Kiama Project is a collaborative approach, driven by people living with dementia. The project has resulted in significant achievements for people living with dementia in the Kiama community.

Coolbinia Bombers JFC and the Fremantle Dockers Foundation, WA

Coolbinia Bombers JFC and the Fremantle Dockers Foundation has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Community Partnerships Award for its Starkick program, which provides children with special needs the opportunity to play AFL football as part of a local community club.

Starkick uses existing community resources and is run by the community for the community. Through the program, children previously unable to participate in mainstream sporting teams are now able to play with their local community club.

Excellence in Inclusive Community Design

Shire of Collie, WA

The Shire of Collie has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence 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 Council has more plans to further enhance the facilities available to increase accessibility for people with disability.

Changing Places, Association for Children with a Disability, VIC

Changing Places, Association for Children with a Disability has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Inclusive Community Design Award for the development and implementation of an initiative that advocates fully accessible bathrooms with adult sized, height adjustable change tables and ceiling hoists for people with severe and profound disabilities.

Changing Places provides a bathroom design option for over 200,000 Australians to advocate for, and benefit from, safe, clean and convenient facilities for people who cannot use regular accessible toilets and who would otherwise need to restrict their outings to short trips close to home or risk being placed in degrading and unhygienic situations. Since the start of this project, over 55 Changing Places have been built, or are in the process of being built Australia-wide.

As a result, Changing Places has provided increased choice and control for individuals. These developments have been met with widespread support from disability advocacy organisations, professional associations within the building industry, and local and state governments across Australia.

V/Line, VIC

V/Line has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Inclusive Community Design Award for its key focus on customers with communication difficulties who take approximately two million V/Line trips per year.

V/Line has created and distributed a communication tool kit for staff at all V/Line stations, and frontline staff are provided training in disability awareness and communication, in order to improve their knowledge and skills. This has increased the confidence of V/Line staff in providing assistance to customers of all abilities.

Through a collaborative approach with industry experts, customers and staff, V/Line has introduced innovative and simple solutions to improve the customer experience for people with disability.

RSL Victoria, VIC

RSL Victoria has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Community Partnerships Award for building a partnership with Housing Choices Australia to provide younger veterans with accommodation and individual support to meet current and emerging needs.

The project aims to deliver short to medium-term accommodation for younger veterans who are at risk of homelessness, resulting from personal difficulties, financial, health or family issues. The project provides more than a roof over their head. It also offers young veterans support to transition back into the community using a holistic approach to recovery.

As a result of the partnership, RSL Victoria and Housing Choices Australia are working towards increasing security, stability, and improving the wellbeing of veterans.

Excellence in Inclusive Service Delivery

Determined2, SA

Determined2 has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Inclusive Service Delivery Award for the development and implementation of the Immersion Therapy Program. This unique, safe and exciting program allows people with disability to experience scuba diving while never leaving the comfort of the local pool. The program has many benefits, including participants being active while in a weightless environment.

Each participant has an individual program tailored to their needs, making it inclusive for people with disability.

The Immersion Therapy Program effectively removes barriers for people with disability, increases inclusion, and provides physical, psychological and social benefits.

Nightlife Disability Service, VIC

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.

Excellence in Accessible Technology

Partnership between Swinburne University of Technology, Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, The Brainary, Transport Accident Commission and CSIRO’s Data61, VIC

A partnership between Swinburne University of Technology, Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, The Brainary, Transport Accident Commission and CSIRO’s Data61 has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Accessible Technology Award.

The partnership is recognised for helping young children undergoing intensive rehabilitation through the development of an innovative and highly effective therapeutic aid, the humanoid robot NAO.

The development of the humanoid robot NAO has been successfully trialed with more than 30 young patients at Melbourne’s Royal Children Hospital.

The next phase of the research is to formally measure productivity per session. It is expected that the robot will ultimately lead to improved rehabilitation, and/or faster recovery time for patients.

Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi, Healthcare Innovations Australia, NSW

Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Accessible Technology Award for his dedication and commitment to the development of technology that aims to bring function to paralysed or injured hands. Dr Abolfathi envisions that this same mechanism will eventually be used for other parts of the body, including the legs.

The first technology to be brought to market is the Exoflex, a device worn on the hand that can be used to perform therapy and assessment of the hand. This device can manipulate and mobilise hand joints in a highly controlled and safe manner for exercise, rehabilitation and eventually function.

Dr Abolfathi’s determination to bring this medical technology into a market space that is difficult to break into will not only help people with disability in Australia, but around the world.

Sonokids Australia, QLD

Sonokids Australia has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Accessible Technology Award for the development of software that supports children with disability to participate equally and inclusively.

Sonokids’ Ballyland Early Learning Software is an original concept that supports the development of early computer and mobile touch screen technology skills in young children with blindness or vision impairment. The innovative software ensures all children can enjoy playing and learning together.

For a child who is blind, to use a laptop for the first time is an invaluable experience of inclusion and empowerment. Sonokids gives blind and visually impaired children the opportunity to change roles and teach sighted children how it is done.

Partnership between Flinders University, University of South Australia, and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network in Adelaide, SA

A partnership between Flinders University, University of South Australia, and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network in Adelaide has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Accessible Technology Award for the development of OrbIT, a therapy and fun gaming system for children with limited hand function, such as children with cerebral palsy.

OrbIT combines therapy and fun into an accessible and home-based solution that children with disability can independently operate. Using a co-design approach, children with and without disability were included in the design process to produce a unique and engaging product that encourages and stimulates hand use while promoting participation and peer interaction.

The success of the trial of children with cerebral palsy has led to the system recently being trialled with acute post-stroke patients at a major rehabilitation centre in Adelaide, and a similar trial is planned for a major hospital in Singapore later this year.

Excellence in Education and Training

Tagai State College Student Support Services Team, QLD

Tagai State College Student Support Services Team has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Education and Training for the development and delivery of the Students Educationally At Risk System (StEARS).The system provides a coordinated, consistent and cohesive wrap-around approach to case managing students with disabilities.

Refined systems and referral processes have provided Tagai State College with greater identification, appropriate interventions and support mechanisms for students with disabilities, including students with conductive hearing loss at the college.

Dandelion Program, Department of Human Services, ACT

The Dandelion Program has been selected as a finalist for the Excellence in Education and Training Award. The Department of Human Services (the department), in collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Danish organisation Specialisterne, have developed and implemented the program, which provides people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) opportunities for skilled employment in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

In January 2015, the program provided traineeships for 11 people with ASD working in the department’s ICT software testing hub in Adelaide. The program has expanded to Brisbane and Canberra, with 38 trainees engaged as at February 2016. Most recently the program has expanded to other government departments, including the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

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