Disability Advocate Wins Top Award
8 November 2016 at 10:16 am
The manager of a South Australian community visitor scheme, which carries out inspections to mental health units, hospital emergency departments and disability accommodation, Maurice Corcoran AM, has won the top award in this year’s National Disability Awards.
Corcoran took out the Lesley Hall Leadership Award and is one of 10 winners across eight categories named in this year’s awards, from a field of more than 120 nominations.
The Lesley Hall Leadership Award recognises excellence in development of reform opportunities across all areas of Australian life that improve the lives of Australians with disability.
The judges said Corcoran had been an advocate for people with disability for more than 30 years, and 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,” they said.
“He is passionate about access to public transport for people with disability. From 1994 to 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.”
In 1998 and 1999 Corcoran was appointed to chair the Disability Advisory Council of South Australia and also carry out an evaluation of quality services for people living with disability in South Australia. He chaired the Physical Disability Council of Australia from 1988 to 2004, and was elected chair of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations in 2004.
In this role he has represented the Australian disability sector in meetings at the United Nations headquarters in New York to develop an International Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability.
“I have a strong belief in social justice and equality of opportunity for all people and believe that my professional social work skills, together with my passion and commitment to facilitate change, allows me to genuinely improve life opportunities for people with disability in Australia,” Corcoran said on winning the award.
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services Jane Prentice congratulated the winners saying they had all made a remarkable effort to improve the lives of people with disability.
“These passionate and hardworking people and organisations have been recognised for their commitment and contribution to achieving greater inclusion and accessibility for people with disability,” Prentice said.
“The National Disability Awards, now in their 10th year, are an excellent opportunity to honour and recognise the hard work and achievements of everyday Australians who are making a real difference to the lives of people with disability.”
The other winners were:
Employer of the Year Award: Brisbane City Council for leading the way in delivering accessible and inclusive practices including its work intervention program called DisABILITY ACTION at WORK.
Excellence in Community Partnerships Award :The Dementia Friendly Kiama Project, and the Kiama Municipal Council in New South Wales, which supports people with dementia to live in a supportive, friendly and inclusive community.
Excellence in Inclusive Community Design Award: Shire of Collie in Western Australia for striving to make its town more accessible by promoting a diverse, sustainable, and inclusive community where people want to live, visit and invest.
Excellence in Inclusive Service Delivery Award (two winners): Determined2, in South Australia, which provides 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.
Nightlife Disability Service in Victoria for a model that supports each person’s independence and choice, therefore reducing their reliance on partners, family or friends.
Excellence in Technology Award : Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi from Healthcare Innovations Australia in New South Wales, for the development of technology known as the Exoflex which has the ability to bring function to paralysed or damaged hands.
Excellence in Education and Training Award: Tagai State College student support services team in Queensland. 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, ensuring a coordinated, consistent and cohesive approach to education for students with disability.
Excellence in Justice and Rights Protection Award (two winners): Kerri Cassidy from Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency Australia in Victoria – a dedicated advocate for justice and rights protection for people with disability, especially people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Cassidy 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.
Kairsty Wilson from AED Legal Centre in Victoria. Her 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.
The National Disability Awards are a major part of the Commonwealth Government’s celebration of International Day of People with Disability, marked on 3 December each year.