• Singer - Songwriter Ruth O'Brien thanked with a hug and flowers from Mipuni Wijewickrema

    Singer - Songwriter Ruth O'Brien thanked with a hug and flowers from Mipuni Wijewickrema

  • Flowers for Tim from Mipuni Wijewickrema

    Flowers for Tim from Mipuni Wijewickrema

  • Winners of the ACT Chief Minister's Award for Excellence, Project Independence.

    Winners of the ACT Chief Minister's Award for Excellence, Project Independence.

  • Karen Hedley awarded for Lifetime Achievement in Support Work

    Karen Hedley awarded for Lifetime Achievement in Support Work

  • Julie Devlin awarded for Excellence in Support Work

    Julie Devlin awarded for Excellence in Support Work

  • Rebecca Buckman awarded for Excellence in Volunteer Support

    Rebecca Buckman awarded for Excellence in Volunteer Support

  • Cara Matthews from award winning Rebus Theatre

    Cara Matthews from award winning Rebus Theatre

  • Award winners from Women With Disabilities ACT

    Award winners from Women With Disabilities ACT

  • Women With Disabilities ACT awarded for Championing Human Rights

    Women With Disabilities ACT awarded for Championing Human Rights

  • Project Independence.......

    Project Independence.......

  • Tony Haley and Tim Ferguson

    Tony Haley and Tim Ferguson

  • Mandy Dolessi and Sarah Strong

    Mandy Dolessi and Sarah Strong

  • Jay Channells, Ben Ashford and Jessica May

    Jay Channells, Ben Ashford and Jessica May

  • Amanda Lewry and Amanda Brown from ICON Water

    Amanda Lewry and Amanda Brown from ICON Water

  • Nicole Stenlake, James Dunstan and Carolyn Grayson from CIT

    Nicole Stenlake, James Dunstan and Carolyn Grayson from CIT

  • Heide Pritchard and Suzie Higgie from the NMA

    Heide Pritchard and Suzie Higgie from the NMA

  • Elaine Stanford and Sandie Bigg-Wither from the Green Shed

    Elaine Stanford and Sandie Bigg-Wither from the Green Shed

  • Deborah Homewood and Andrew Barr

    Deborah Homewood and Andrew Barr

  • Tim Ferguson

    Tim Ferguson

  • Margaret Ryan and her daughter Christine Ryan

    Margaret Ryan and her daughter Christine Ryan

  • Louise Avent and Kath Morwitch

    Louise Avent and Kath Morwitch

  • Lana O'Brien and Jo Bryce

    Lana O'Brien and Jo Bryce

  • David and Sandy Leitch

    David and Sandy Leitch

  • Pilar Asua and James Roe

    Pilar Asua and James Roe

  • Kate Starick, Jane Beaumont, Maureen Sheehan and Sarah Hawke

    Kate Starick, Jane Beaumont, Maureen Sheehan and Sarah Hawke

  • Helen Tonkin and Karen Hunter

    Helen Tonkin and Karen Hunter

  • Sally Gibson, Veronuca Wensing, Melanie Saballa and Meredith Whitten

    Sally Gibson, Veronuca Wensing, Melanie Saballa and Meredith Whitten

  • Nicholas Stuart and Catherine McGrath

    Nicholas Stuart and Catherine McGrath

The ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards is one to make us proud of the extent and excellence of the inclusion of people with disabilities across a wide spectrum of areas in this city. In its 12th year this gala event held again at The Great Hall of Parliament House has changed attitudes, created a buzz in so many areas of inclusion and is a showcase for those who live with disabilities and get on with life. The wheelchairs whizz around, those with walkers, walking sticks and crutches make this space their own as they catch up with friends, family and those in the ‘industries’ that provide for them. And bringing it altogether in his inimitable self deprecating way was Tim Ferguson who claims one ‘sclerosis’ wasn’t enough so he chose the multiple variety. He worked the room during breaks and kept the night light hearted and fun, and we want him back next year.

It was an anniversary for Chief Minister Andrew Barr as last year he’d just been made Chief Minster and 12 months on his enthusiasm to aim now for Canberra to be a world leader in disability inclusion with the implementation of the National Disability Strategy, and since July this year the National Disability Insurance Scheme that has been many years in the creating, but will in the future provide for the disabled from birth to 65, is such a positive attitude and approach from a leader.

The Inclusion Awards have always had surprises in the ‘entertainment’ arena and this year the honest and uplifting story recorded by Canberran Jeanette Purkis, made us all stop and marvel at the difficulties she faced, overcame and then found her true vocation as a writer. Her book Finding a New Kind of Normal: Misadventures with Asperger Syndrome is a resounding success and consequently had her using her impressive knowledge and voice in a range of areas to speak to the issues of mental health and autism as well as hosting her own internet radio show, a TEDx talk and working with support groups.

The awards cover many categories of excellence including innovation, volunteer support, championing human rights, employment in the public and private sector and education and training but the big winner was Project Independence a new housing model for those with a mild intellectual disability to own their home. Project director is Glenn Keys of Aspen Medical who was inspired to develop the idea by his son Ehren, who has a mild disability, and the biggest smile on stage for the presentation.

Small Change, Big Difference – the Inclusion motto well demonstrated on this awards night.