National Awards for Disability Leadership — winners announced

Monday, 06 December, 2021

National Awards for Disability Leadership — winners announced

The National Awards for Disability Leadership have recognised the achievements of seven disability leaders.

The recipients include a youth activist successfully lobbying ministers, an innovator with a passion for beach going, a leading LGBTIQ disability advocate, a Commonwealth public servant making significant internal change, a well-respected author and researcher on autism and two fashion designers making inclusive and adaptive fashion.

These awards recognise outstanding achievements by individuals, or disabled people’s organisations, who have significantly contributed to advancing the status of disabled people.

“What a remarkable and outstanding illustration of the diversity of disability leadership in Australia today,” said Christina Ryan, CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute.

The 2021 Recipients of the National Awards for Disability Leadership are:

Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement

Wenn Lawson — Wenn works with researchers around the world on vital topics like ageing and quality of life, has written 20+ books and co-developed monotropism, a person-centred theory to conceptualise autism. He provides advice, mentors new leaders, supports families and helps ensure Autistic kids’ rights are met at school. Dr Wenn Lawson has educated and helped autistic people, families and community members to see autism differently. He is an experienced researcher, public speaker and author. He’s a proud family man and member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Rights Activism

Chloe Polglaze — By sharing her lived experience, she directly contributed to a significant policy change that will positively impact children with disability around Australia. Following her contributions at the Children and Young people with Disability Australia (CYDA) and Families Australia policy forum, Community Services Ministers met and agreed to add a fourth priority group to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children successor plan.


Ruby Susan Mountford — Ruby Mountford’s contribution to LGBTIQA+ disability communities and work in community development and inclusion has involved co-authored research reports, co-designed resources for self-advocacy and employment inclusion, and developing an Accessibility Inclusion Action Plan for Thorne Harbour Health to reduce barriers and support community participation for LGBTIQA+ people with disabilities.


Shane Hryhorec — Shane connects communities, councils, surf life savers clubs and people with disability around Australia to make over 50 Australian beaches more accessible. Shane regularly delivers beach access training and workshops, lived experience advisory, hosting community accessible beach days, organising equipment test and trials, and has created a free online accessible beach and waterway directory.

Social Impact

Nikki Hind — Nikki Hind is Australia’s first legally blind fashion designer and the Founder of her fashion label Blind Grit. Nikki is also the Fashion Editor for Wb40 — Women Beyond Forty Magazine. She is a Disability and Inclusion advisor and media consultant. As the Fashion Editor of Wb40, Nikki’s passion is to change the narrative around inclusion of disabled people and designers in the fashion industry. Writing features on ‘inclusive fashion’ and why representation of the disability community matters, Nikki is making an impact on how disabled women see themselves, but also changing the narrative on how mainstream media represents disability and fashion.

Change Making

Kimberley Congram — Kim worked to reform and transform the inclusion network for people with disability in the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) and the APS. She redeveloped the Celebrating Ability Network (CAN), growing membership from 0.3% to 11%. Her enthusiasm and leadership has built an environment of support and inclusivity, built trust amongst the cohort, and enhanced inclusion of people with disability and diversity.


Carol Taylor — Carol Taylor is a lawyer, award-winning artist, the world’s first quadriplegic fashion designer. In addition she is a disability advocate through both her works as a founding member of the Queensland Law Society Diverse Abilities Network and through her role as a non-Executive Director of Spinal Life Australia. Carol’s designs caught the attention of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Director. She was invited to design a collection of nine pieces of adaptive clothing to open a runway event for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival.

Top image credit: ©

Related News

Aged care experiencing chronic understaffing, excessive workloads

Australian aged-care facilities are experiencing an unprecedented crisis with chronic...

Support at home program consultation to begin soon

The government will soon begin consultation on critical design elements for the new Support at...

Aged care: education program to strengthen leadership, governance

The federal government has launched an education program to help aged-care providers strengthen...

  • All content Copyright © 2022 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd