The Pacific Island journey of an inclusion specialist, a non-verbal visionary who proves it’s never too late to live independently, and a model amputee increasing visibility through fashion.

These are among the winners of the National Awards for Disability Leadership.

The awards across seven categories recognise the contribution and leadership shown by people with disability and organisations in Australia, in ways that are effecting change and pursuing equality for the community.

The Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement went to Ben Clare who has worked for over two decades in Australia and the Pacific Islands teaching children braille literacy and how to use computers. (Ben’s story appeared in the June 2022 issue of Link magazine). Taking out the Innovation Award was Robert King, who took the opportunity of technology and a support circle to live in his own apartment. Rob is non-verbal and has a significant physical disability.

The Social Impact award went to amputee James Parr who shares his story with media and fashion industries through modelling.  The Change Making Award went to Sarah Joyce who played a pivotal role in recognising World Meningitis Day and the Arts Award was presented to Natalia Stawyskyj, founder of Two Shoes Films.

Autism advocate Heidi La Paglia Reid took out the Rights Activism Award and the Inclusion Award went to Akii Ngo who is leading the LGBTIQA+ Strategy at the NDIA.

Photo: Ben Clare with student in Fiji.