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2017 Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards

2017 Chief Minister's Inclusion Awards logo

Congratulations to all the 71 finalists, the commended, and the award recipients in the 2017 Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards. The awards were presented at the National Museum of Australia on Thursday evening, 14 December.

The ACT Chief Minister’s Award for Excellence, selected from the award recipients, went to the Dandelion Program Canberra, DXC Technology for its innovative IT career development program.

Profiles of the Winners and Commendations

Emerging Young Leader
Joint Winners: Lenita Premnath & Mitchell McDermott

Joint Winner: Lenita Premnath

Lenita is a volunteer at an aged care facility, with The Smith Family and also at her local church in the Girl’s Brigade. She believes in contributing to society and is also a young woman with speech and communication difficulties.

She joined the ACT Government’s Inclusion Traineeship program and commenced working at Charles Weston School in February 2017. Within a short space of time she has quickly established her credentials as a highly-valued colleague, demonstrating a positive and supportive nature that people gravitate toward. Lenita has already completed a Certificate III in Business and is working on a Certificate III in Library and Information Services.

Joint Winner: Mitchell McDermott

Mitchell is an enthusiastic, compassionate and motivated young man currently in Year 11 at Black Mountain School. He is a leader at the Six Degrees Cafe, Garden and Gallery and assists with the hospitality training of other students. This on the job training increases student’s confidence and their ability to make their way in the world.

Mitchell demonstrates that inclusion comes from many directions and recently raised money to help his widowed neighbour fix her fence. His actions demonstrate his commitment to ensuring the inclusion and wellbeing of all people.

Achievement in Inclusion
Winner: Anne Walsh

Anne has been part of the L’Arche Genesaret Community for nearly 35 years. She has been an exemplary leader in her local community by supporting the inclusion of people with and without disability.
Anne strives to work with people of diverse backgrounds and serve those in need, especially while in hospital. Anne enjoys new challenges and has seen sport as a vehicle for inclusion, both as a participant and by supporting others in a sporting team or other team environment. She has demonstrated a life-long commitment to those in Canberra and beyond.

Excellence in Making Inclusion Happen
Winner: Wayne Herbert

Wayne is a prominent, in-demand public speaker, presenter, advocate and writer promoting the rights and opportunities for people with disability and people in the LGBTIQ community.
He is the Deputy Director of People and Planning at LEAD, the Deputy Chairperson of the ACT Government LGBTIQ Advisory Council, the Chairperson of Network of Employment and Training Agencies and a member of the ACT Disability Reference Group, amongst other roles.
Wayne is not just an advocate for inclusion, he understands first-hand what the issues are and how they impact people with disability and marginalised groups within the community

Inclusion in Private Sector Employment
Winner: Blackhawk Logistics

Blackhawk Logistics, under the enthusiasm of Operations Manager Dean Tranda, have made an incredible difference to the life of a young man with autism who was frustrated at the lack of employment opportunities for people with disability.

Thanks to Dean’s honour and respect for individuals with disability, they have in this case ensured everything was there to meet Joshua’s needs. Their attitude is purely about being able to do the job, to treat Joshua like any other employee who takes home a real wage.

Commendation: (1 of 2) Charnwood Capital Chemist

The Charnwood Capital Chemist team, especially Samantha Kourtis and Shannon Berry, were nominated by the mother of a young man with disability for their persistence and dedication to including him in their team. Samantha and Shannon’s commitment to supporting Jack in work experience, including exploring different support options and providing flexibility and further training has led to Jack securing permanent part time employment with the Chemist.

Commendation: (2 of 2) Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers

A leading Canberra commercial law firm, Meyer Vandenberg has a commitment to equality and inclusion in employment and to involvement of its partners and staff in the ACT community. One success case is a young man with disability who was introduced to the firm by LEAD. With LEAD’s assistance Meyer Vandenberg’s HR team combined various activities and duties to suit his abilities which has seen his role grown over more than five years.

Inclusion in Public Sector Employment
Winner: Diversity Directorate Department of Defence

The Defence Diversity and Inclusion Strategy identified the need to modify systems and processes in areas of recruitment, workplace adjustments and training to attract and increase employment opportunities for people with disability.

Over an eighteen-month period they have successfully established eight sites across Australia employing 98 individuals. In addition, Defence has provided the opportunity of employment for 33 people with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder through the Inclusive Employment Program and the Dandelion@Defence Program. These programs are a result of the collaborative partnership between Defence, the local disability community, individuals, their families and broader support networks.


ACT Employment Inclusion Team, Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

The ACT Government’s Inclusion Employment Team within the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate is responsible for inclusion employment programs in the ACT Public Service. They provide pastoral care to the participants and inclusion support to work areas including linking into the best services and Disability Employment Service Providers.

In 2016 the Team re-designed their Vocation Employment Program for people with disability, to be more flexible and to take into account the specific needs of both the individual and the work area. The team’s Disability Employment Provider Expo for job seekers was a great success.

Inclusion in Education and Training
Winner: Six Degrees Café Garden and Gallery

Six Degrees Cafe, Garden and Gallery is the first social enterprise to be established in an ACT school. It integrates Black Mountain School’s existing vocational streams of hospitality, horticulture, industrial art, and sustainability.

The aim is to equip students with the skills to help them gain enduring employment enabling both economic security and social inclusion. The students involved have transformed. They have become more confident individuals, ‘walking taller’ and reaching out to new opportunities. Some of these students have already gained part-time employment out of school hours, a defining rite of passage for any young person.

Commendation: Football Connect Capital Football
The aim of Football Connect created by Canberra’s Capital Football is to provide football-playing opportunities for people with disability. Football Connect provides a safe, pressure free and enjoyable football environment for all players and trains and recruits players with disability in order to connect them to their local clubs. The program continues to foster diversity, helps participants to build resilience and engages local clubs to build their capacity by becoming a more inclusive, equal and welcoming footballing community.

Inclusion in Business
Winner: The Dandelion Program Canberra, DXC Technology

The Dandelion program is an employment program focused on assisting people with autism obtain IT careers. In Canberra the program has hired 38 people with autism and launched a work experience program with ANU, the University of Canberra and Canberra Institute of Technology to assist higher education students on the spectrum improve their employability.

The program is in partnership with the Australian Department of Human Services, the Department of Defence, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and ANZ Bank. The key difference with the program is the focus on career skills beyond just having job.

Commendation: Smith’s Alternative

Smith’s Alternative is a cafe providing a safe, welcoming, and comfortable environment for a diverse range of people, including those with physical, intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. Smith’s Alternative staff, led by owners Nigel McRae and Beth Tully, are considerate and inclusive of people of all abilities.

They host the fully inclusive lunchtime ‘Lunchulele’ ukulele group and forums on issues around inclusivity and intersectionality. One of Smith’s recent art exhibitions included work from cafe regular Sam Agyemang, whose ‘Donkey Wash’ social enterprise has Smith’s as a client.

Excellence in Innovation
Winner: Warehouse Circus

Warehouse Circus has developed an innovative inclusive participation pathway model to provide circus training to people of all abilities, and are dedicated to using circus therapy to improve the quality of life for all.

Classes support students to gain the focus, assistance and necessary tools with the overriding goal to provide opportunities to participate inclusively in the whole group environment. Their outreach programs work with Woden and Black Mountain Schools, the Bimberi Centre, and the wider community, targeting at risk youth, mental health, senior citizens, and disadvantaged families and schools.

Commendation: Cyclabilities

Cyclabilities supports children of all abilities. Selina Hardwicke and Fiona Jarvis started Cyclabilities with the desire and hope to provide an inclusive, welcoming holistic program that helps families with children with additional needs develop cycling and road safety skills.

Cyclabilities focuses on developmentally appropriate steps, identifying road safety issues, strength and conditioning and cycling skills. Activities, consolidate skills development and ensure that there learning is always fun. Cyclabilities recognise that each student is different and that they come to the program with different needs. Cyclabilities has a dedicated and committed team including Occupational Therapists, Exercise Physiologists, Disability Workers and teachers.

Excellence in Championing Human Rights
Winner: Fiona May

Fiona May has been one of the strongest and most influential voices in both the ACT and the national disability advocacy space for many years.

She is CEO of the ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service as well as Chair of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Ageing, a member of the Minister’s Disability Reference Group, Deputy Chair of the Disability Advocacy Network of Australia and Managing Director of the Older Person’s Advocacy Network. Fiona has gone above and beyond these roles to work tirelessly to ensure that the voices of those in our community who would not otherwise be heard are given prominence.

Excellence in Volunteer Support
Winner: Sian Keys

Sian launched Scienceability in 2017, Australia’s first science program run for and by people with intellectual disability. Hands-on workshops explored the science of colour, air, flight, music, building and making liquids and fluids and were run by trained volunteer science facilitators in the lead-up to National Science Week.

This culminated in a free, open workshop where the Scienceability participants ran demonstrations and activities for the general community. The participants were proud to be the ones teaching, sharing their knowledge, answering questions and showing people how to do various experiments. This, in turn, promoted the benefits of inclusion to the whole community.

Excellence in Support Work
Winner: Jital Pandya

Jital is a support worker with Able Australia and has excelled at ensuring inclusion for people both in shared living settings as well as those who live in their own homes. The outcomes he has achieved may appear small to some, but for the people concerned they are life changing.
Jital has championed inclusion, assisting individuals to overcome their barriers to participation and to lead fuller lives. His excellence in support work, in internal auditing and compliance and in leadership, was recognised this year when he was a joint national Winner: of Able Australia’s Debbie Pryor Award for excellence in support work.

Commendation: Alixandra Welin

Alixandra (‘Alix’) has taken on increased responsibility in 2017 for improving participation in programs at Communities@Work Maribyrnong Out of School Hours Care, particularly amongst children with disability and serious medical conditions.
Alix has encouraged and inspired children with disability to engage with peers and activities such as food preparation and serving other children and parents at 5pm snack time. The children’s social skills have increased and their sense of achievement and community belonging. Alix’s unconditional positive regard for all means children with disability are able to express themselves and participate in an inclusive environment.

Life Time Achievement in Support Work
Winner: Lyn Kelly

Lyn Kelly has been involved in the support of people with a disability for over 30 years. She is responsible for coordinating four houses supporting approximately 16 people with disability and is involved in establishing a fifth Canberra house.

Lyn is a mentor to her fellow workers including assistants from overseas, helping to change attitudes towards people with disability not only in the Canberra community but abroad. Lyn’s selfless contribution over so many years means she is a very worthy recipient of the life time achievement in support work award.

Commendation: June Kelly

June is a Registered Nurse and has worked in the ACT community for over 35 years for aged care facilities, clinics, hospitals and service providers. June has worked for DUO as a Clinical Adviser and Assessor for the past four years, and prior to that, with Home Help Service ACT for three years.

June works tirelessly towards helping clients reach their goals and full potential. She is often involved in the most complex cases due to her expertise and commitment to ensure that all necessary services are in place without thought to her own time.

Innovation in design to create inclusion of people with disability
Winner: Getaboutable

Getaboutable is an innovative Canberra-based start up social enterprise using the latest web technologies and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram platforms to enable people with disability, their families, friends and supporters in Canberra and world-wide to find suitable travel and leisure opportunities across the world.
Getaboutable.com aims to be a globally recognised and utilised information hub providing free information, reviews and contacts to people with mobility, vision, hearing and other sensory accessibility needs and their families and friends.

ACT CHIEF MINISTER’S AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE (selected from all the award recipients)
Winner: The Dandelion Program Canberra, DXC Technology (also the Winner: of Inclusion in Business)

The Dandelion program is an employment program focused on assisting people with autism obtain IT careers. In Canberra, the program has hired 38 people with autism and launched a work experience program with ANU, the University of Canberra and Canberra Institute of Technology to assist higher education students on the spectrum improve their employability.

The program is in partnership with the Australian Department of Human Services, the Department of Defence, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and ANZ Bank. The key difference with the program is the focus on career skills beyond just having job.

The Dandelion program support model ensures that the employees get the necessary support to ensure long term success.

The program also supports the employees with broader life-skills development, including courses on nutrition, further education and how to manage finances. As there is a high degree of unemployment amongst people with autism, the value of this approach is creating an environment and business model that not only seeks to integrate people with autism into the work force, but seeks out their special abilities.

Congratulations to all.