Develop, support, promote disability leaders

2023 Recipients

National Awards for Disability Leadership

The #DisabilityAwards2023 is proudly supported by Team DSC, Australia’s leading training, conference and consulting group specialising in the NDIS.

The Team DSC logo

National Awards for Disability Leadership 2023 Finalists

The Recipients of 2023 National Awards for Disability Leadership are:


Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement – Ben Clare

Rights Activism  – Heidi La Paglia Reid

 Inclusion – Akii Ngo

Innovation – Robert King

Social Impact – James Parr

Change Making – Sarah Joyce

Arts – Natalia Stawyskyj


Ben is facing camera wearing a check red shirt, he has dark hair and is smiling.
Ben Clare – Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement

The Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement – awarded to an individual who has shown commitment to the disability rights movement and worked over time to achieve significant outcomes for disabled people.

Ben has worked for over 20 years throughout Australia & the Pacific. He worked and volunteered to teach children braille literacy and how to use computers with JAWS and NVDA. Ben advocates for and provides advice on disability inclusion and inclusive education to government bodies.

Listen to the interview with Ben Clare from our Recipients podcast series 〉


Heidi is smiling to the camera, she is wearing a dark jacket and has long dark hair.
Heidi La Paglia Reid
– Rights Activism

Rights Activism – advancing the status of disabled people by using human rights mechanisms, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Heidi has worked tirelessly to advocate for and represent the rights of Autistic and disabled people and is currently working on Australia’s first National Autism Strategy. Heidi has also led and contributed to numerous initiatives which aim to prevent violence against disabled women, including Our Watch’s Changing the Landscape framework and Women With Disabilities Australia’s Our Site website.

Listen to the interview with Heidi La Paglia Reid from our Recipients podcast series 〉


Akii is sitting in their power wheelchair. They have purple and pink hair and a coloured frock. Next to them is text saying: You can be disabled and be a unique, genuine, kind and wonderful human being. We all have unique characteristics, goals and dreams, just like every person - Akii Ngo 2022 Ambassador. Below that is the IDPWD logo.
Akii Ngo – Inclusion

Inclusion – illustrating the intersectional diversity of disabled people by designing processes, systems or programs.

They have actively & passionately brought awareness & inclusion to the LGBTIQA+ disability community as the inagural Sydney WorldPride Accessibility Manager focusing on all things inclusion & accessibility for all Queer, disabled people. Also leading the LGBTIQA+ Intersectional Strategy at NDIA.


A group of 10 Down Syndrome folk smiling at the camera, one is holding a certificate.
Robert King – Innovation

Innovation – achieving outcomes to the status of disabled people by working outside the box, developing new systems, technology or tools.

Rob lived in institutions for 50 years. Now Rob lives by himself in his own accessible apartment with a life filled with love and connection. He has done this by having an unyielding vision, creating new support systems, grasping the opportunity of technology for freedom and a support circle. Rob is non verbal with significant physical disability and proved the idea that he couldn’t live safely on his own after institutionalisation as false & ableist.


A black and white photo of a smiling man in a black singlet top. He is looking to left of the picture.
James Parr – Social Impact

Social Impact – achieve visibility of disabled people by using mainstream or social media, or other digital interfaces.

James Parr is a Melbourne-based right below-knee amputee, sharing his story, and lived experiences to champion inclusion and representation for the disabled community within mainstream media/fashion industries. James has worked hard to change the sad narrative or sad stigma that having a disability has to a new narrative. He has done this by increased visibility and representation through modelling for: Champion, lululemon, Stellar Magazine, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and walking multiple runways for Melbourne Fashion Week, Melbourne Fashion Festival and Australian Fashion Week.


Sarah is smiling to camera, she has blond hair and is wearing a short white frock and is standing in front of balloons.
Sarah Joyce – Change Making

Change Making – achieving greater equality for disabled people by changing policy, programs, or legislation.

Sarah’s dedicated advocacy played a pivotal role in the recognition of World Meningitis Day in Australia by health ministers and significantly boosted meningococcal vaccination rates and access. As ambassador for Meningitis Centre Australia and CoMO, she has featured in media, on buses & billboards.


Natalia is leaning on a railing, she has dark hair and is wearing black clothes. There are big globe lights behind her.
Natalia Stawyskyj – Arts

The Arts – advancing the status of disabled people through artistic expression.

Natalia Stawyskyj, MAICD is a filmmaker and founder of Two Shoes Films, known for the Screen NSW-funded film ‘All Silent Dogs’. She was in AICD’s Disability Leadership Program and nominated for Young Australian Filmmaker of the Year. She is a fierce advocate for improving accessibility in the arts. Her acclaimed films novelly explore disability through genre. She has used them to broaden the definition of a disabled story and increase understanding of her lived experience.

Listen to the interview with Natalia Stawyskyj from our Recipients podcast series 〉


National Awards for Disability Leadership 2023 Finalists