The individual category recognises volunteers and disability sector employees who have consistently and over a substantial period of time:
- Promoted community awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with a disability
- Supported people with a disability to be involved in their community
- Improved community access for people with a disability.
Awards were presented in the following four sub-categories.
This award recognises an individual for their exceptional voluntary service to Queensland's disability sector.
Award recipient: Tim Sheridan
Tim Sheridan has greatly improved the quality of life for people with a disability on the Sunshine Coast by initiating a range of soccer programs for children, teens and adults with disabilities. In 2010, Tim launched the first of these programs, the Maroochydore Football Skills Academy, with 10-20 participants. Each week, the program now involves soccer academies for 120 people with a disability and has provided soccer participation experiences for over 500 people with a disability.
The programs increase self-esteem and confidence and assist with improving balance and coordination. Tim actively involves parents and siblings in the skills academy, which has helped to provide more invaluable family experiences and resulted in many families also playing backyard soccer with their child between sessions.
This award recognises a volunteer from any community service area or organisation who, through his or her efforts, goodwill and commitment to the inclusion of Queenslanders with a disability, has promoted greater understanding of disability among the broader community in Queensland.
Award recipient: John Fox
82 year old Brisbane resident, John Fox has worked tirelessly and compassionately for the past 11 years to benefit the lives of a group of people within the community who so often suffer alone – those struggling with mental health. In late 2000, John a retired teacher and accountant, was out door-knocking when one door was answered by a disheveled, sullen, and solitary man. The young man invited John in for a cup of coffee and from this chance encounter, John gained insight into the cold, isolated reality of people affected by mental health issues, and how many within the community go unnoticed.
John felt inspired to help and after approaching several church and community groups, John gathered a small number of volunteers who were keen to get involved. The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane agreed to provide training to volunteers and not long after this, Group 61 was born. When Group 61 began, John had four volunteers and five “friends” (those suffering with mental health issues) who were being supported. Today, 82 year old John heads up 70 volunteers and over 90 “friends” (with hundreds more on a waiting list). Group 61 currently operates in the northern suburbs of Brisbane and Pine Rivers and is growing to the southern side of the Brisbane River.
Outstanding disability sector worker, sponsored by Curam
This award recognises the outstanding contribution of a person employed in the disability sector who has gone beyond what is expected in his or her professional capacity.
Award recipient: Barbara Wearing
Barbara joined Semita House - The Central Highlands and Western QLD Family Support Association in 2010. Semita House supports adults with an intellectual disability and promotes choice, independence and life opportunities in an open and inclusive community. With strong knowledge, much enthusiasm and love, Barbara has shown service users the possibilities that can be achieved. Barbara has supported services users to see the strength within themselves and among their friends, she has engaged with organisations and individuals including PCYC, Balls Club, Pottery Club in the community and introduced these people to services available to them.
Through Barbara’s constant support and never ending energy levels she allows clients to grow, take responsibility of their own life and make decisions for the future. Barbara never gives up and anything is possible. For Barbara, every minute with the service users is important and she often reminds her colleagues that “this is our job but it is their life”.
Outstanding young achiever, sponsored by the Institute for Healthy Communities Group
This award is for an individual aged 12 to 25 who has provided exceptional leadership in promoting community awareness of disability.
Award recipient: Marlena Katene
Marlena has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair but this does not mean she is defined by her disability, this is only one part of who she is and how she lives her life. Throughout Marlena’s short life, she has provided her community with exceptional leadership in all areas while promoting a positive image for disability.
Marlena’s journey began in high school when it was clear she wanted to promote a quality of life for herself and others with a disability. Writing has always been a passion for Marlena and she is currently half-way through studying for a Bachelor of Communications degree majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing. She is in the process of having her first children’s book and a book of quotes published and both of these books promote a positive image and inclusiveness for people with a disability.