Kymberly Martin

Meet the Disability Leadership Award recipients for 2021

The National Awards for Disability Leadership have been announced, recognising seven disability leaders, working across a wide range of fields and achieving outstanding outcomes to improve the status of disabled people.


The 2021 recipients include two fashion designers making inclusive and adaptive fashion, a youth activist successfully lobbying ministers, a Commonwealth public servant making significant internal change, an innovator with a passion for beach going, a leading LGBTIQ disability advocate, and a author and researcher on autism.

Disability Leadership Institute CEO, Christine Ryan said the awards are an outstanding illustration of the diversity of disability leadership in Australia today. “These Awards reflect what is important to disabled people and the ways that we are effecting change and pursuing equality for our community.”

These awards are owned and run by people with disability, designed by people with disability and leading disability organisations. All nominees, staff and judges are people with disability.


Shane Hryhorec – Innovation: Connects communities, councils, surf life savers clubs and people with disability around Australia to make 50 beaches more accessible. He delivers beach access training workshops and created a free online accessible beach and waterway directory. Pictured.

Nikki Hind – Social Impact: Australia’s first legally blind fashion designer, founder of Blind Grit and fashion editor for Women Beyond Forty Magazine is working on how mainstream media represents disability and fashion.

Chloe Polglaze – Rights Activism: By sharing her lived experience, she directly contributed to a significant policy change that will positively impact children with disability around Australia.

Dr Wenn Lawson – Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement: A researcher and author he works with researchers around the world on vital topics like ageing and quality of life and co-developed a person-centred theory to conceptualise autism.

Ruby Susan Mountford – Inclusion: For her contribution to LGBTIQA+ disability communities and work in community development and inclusion.

Kimberley Congram – Change Making:  Has reformed and transformed the inclusion network for people with disability in the Attorney-General’s Department and re-developed the Celebrating Ability Network.

Carol Taylor – Arts: Lawyer and award-winning artist, the world’s first quadriplegic fashion designer. She designed adaptive clothing to open a runway event for Mercedes-Benz fashion Festival a first for fashion inclusivity and the first time an all-visible disability cast of models has appeared on a national runway.