Develop, support, promote disability leaders

2022 Finalists

National Awards for Disability Leadership


National Awards for Disability Leadership 2022 Finalists

Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement

  • Perry Cross – has been a strong and respected voice in the disability community since the Spinal Cord Injury he had at 19. An advocate for better conditions and opportunities for people with disabilities, Perry has created numerous communities of people who receive incredible outcomes as a direct result of his tireless work. Through representation, advocacy, fundraising. and his founded companies, his impact is immeasurable.
  • Ace Bonato – is a great leader in facilitating social changes through the peer led Social Change Action Group at Diversity and Disability Alliance where disability rights, breaking the barriers, system advocacy, social inclusion, social model for people with disability, circle of support, especially in CALD communities are upheld and tirelessly pursued to ensure a better life quality for people with disability.

Rights Activism

  • People with Disability WA (PWDWA) – works in key areas including NDIS; violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation; access and inclusion; employment; discrimination, and justice. PWdWA’s Individual Advocate, along with their Disability Royal Commission and State Administration Tribunal Advocates provide support, advocacy and engagement to ensure people with disabilities to have their voices heard and their rights upheld.
  • Zac Chu – convened Diet to Save Earth (DTSE) to contribute towards the attainment of UNSDGs 2, 3, 12 and 13. He led the campaign of e-petitioning Australia to sign the Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action, and launched the “Be My Proxy” initiative in the last federal election to ‘enfranchise’ underage Australians. His achievements elevate the status of PWD and inspire youths, in Australia.

Inclusion (working intersectionally)

  • Diversity and Disability Alliance – is a user led organisation, run by and for people with disability from diverse backgrounds. An independent collective voice committed to full inclusion, leading the way by delivering innovative peer led programs in order to create social change at individual, community and societal levels. Peer support is the foundation of DDAlliance – maximising knowledge, skills and expertise of people with disability from CALD backgrounds. Innovative programs thrive: Peers come together for mentoring, facilitator training, ‘Peer Cafes’ in numerous languages, learning hubs, peer led research, Circles of Support, and Communities of Practice. Leading by example to create an inclusive just society.


  • The University of Sydney’s Disability At Work Network (DAWN) Steering Committee – is a staff network at the University of Sydney. The network is led by a voluntary Steering Committee comprised of staff with lived experience of Disability. Their mission is to build community and lead change on Disability issues at the University. In 2022 they pioneered multiple programs and initiatives to build awareness and to improve ease of access at the university.
  • My Active Life – Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) are a group of people with disability who inform strategy and best practice for a National ILC funded grant to develop initiatives for sport & recreation inclusion in regional communities. The group also steer the research element on the benefits of assistive technology. To date 3000 people have accessed new programs and assistive technology and the LEAG have been the voice behind their success. In addition the LEAG are responsible for changes to research tools for wider use by improving language, tone and accessibility.

Social Impact

  • Carol Taylor – In May AfterPay’s Australian Fashion Week Sydney featured Australia’s first adaptive clothing runway. This historic event featured on Channel 7 Sunrise, ABC News breakfast, Channel 9 news in addition to extensive coverage in magazines such as Australian Women’s Weekly, Harpers Bazaar and Vogue magazine, achieving visibility of disabled people through the use of mainstream and social media. Carol Taylor was featured widely throughout as lead designer for Christina Stephens.
  • Stephanie ‘Stevie’ Russell-Farnham – Through her social enterprise, EmpowerME Enterprises, and her work with Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), Stevie has become a powerful advocate for women and girls living with disability, especially the often overlooked ‘invisible’ disabilities. Her willingness to share, through her speaking engagements and through social and mainstream media, her personal struggles of living her best life with ‘invisible’ disabilities, is a powerful tool for raising awareness of the disability community. Stevie’s communications are about capacity, not incapacity, challenging many of the myths in our society about disability.

Change Making

  • Rebecca ‘Bec’ Hogan – works for the ABC in the Emergency Team who advise and help staff during disasters, she specialises in digital emergency broadcasting on social media and online platforms. Bec is also the deputy chair of the ABC disability employee group ABC Inclusive and leads the group in access matters. Bec has worked hard to ensure that people with disability can access ABC emergency information, including educating staff on access tools, creating specific content for people with disability to prepare for disaster, help design ABC website, ensured access in workflows. organising events. Bec led a massive audit of content which resulted in technology roll outs, opportunities for people with disability, and positive culture shifts.
  • Jenny Smith – Jenny is a respected member of the mental health sector and participates in several organisations that have a direct influence on mental health policy. She spends many hours in meetings advocating to improve programs and services for people living with mental illness and there families Currently she sits on over 10 committees, is a peer educator and volunteer.
  • Megan Spindler-Smith – is a leader of inclusion at the ABC, vocally role modeling inclusive and accessible leadership. They have increased access to leadership roles for people with disability and driven the change to the accessibility of learning at the ABC. Introducing accessibility into a strategic learning subject at UTS.


  • Duncan Steward – Duncan Steward is the founder and owner of Platinum Cre8ive (an organisation specialising in representation of artists with disabilities in the creative arts sector in Australia and Internationally) Duncan is also the co-creator and organiser of the online International concert WhiteStick Fest.
  • Julia Rose Bak – has been writing about their experience growing up as a disabled person since 2017 when their first article was published in Overland. Since then, Julia has written articles for Bitch, Archer (online and the Disability print edition), Honi Soit, Refinery29, and more, all of which discuss disability, disability justice, access, ableism, and collective liberation for disabled people.

National Awards for Disability Leadership 2022 Finalists