Develop, support, promote disability leaders

Recipients announced in the #DisabilityAwards2021



3 December 2021


Recipients – National Awards for Disability Leadership


On International Day of People with Disabilities the National Awards for Disability Leadership have acknowledged the work of 7 outstanding disability leaders.


Disability leaders are working across a wide range of fields and achieving outstanding outcomes to improve the status of disabled people.


The 2021 Recipients include 2 fashion designers making inclusive and adaptive fashion, a youth activist successfully lobbying ministers, a Commonwealth public servant making significant internal change, an innovator with a passion for beach going, a leading LGBTIQ disability advocate, and a well respected author and researcher on autism. (see attached list of recipients with bios.)


“What a remarkable and outstanding illustration of the diversity of disability leadership in Australia today,” said Christina Ryan, CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute.


These Awards reflect what is important to disabled people and the ways that we are effecting change and pursuing equality for our community. They recognise outstanding achievements by individuals, or disabled people’s organisations, who have significantly contributed to advancing the status of disabled people.


The Awards are delivered across seven categories for outstanding achievement or outcomes by disabled people, reflecting the diversity of our community, and the intersectional nature of our lives, including The Arts, Change Making, Rights Activism, Innovation, Social Impact, Inclusion (for intersectional work), Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement.


The National Awards for Disability Leadership are owned and run solely by disabled people, were designed by disabled people and leading disabled peoples organisations, and all nominees, staff and judges are disabled people.  #DisabilityAwards2021 (for photos and bios)

National Awards for Disability Leadership

2021 Recipients:


Chloe Polglaze – Rights Activism

By sharing her lived experience, she directly contributed to a significant policy change that will positively impact children with disability around Australia. Following her contributions at the Children and Young people with Disability Australia (CYDA) and Families Australia policy forum, Community Services Ministers’ met and agreed to add a fourth priority group to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children successor plan.


Ruby Susan Mountford – Inclusion (working intersectionally)

Ruby Mountford’s contribution to LGBTIQA+ disability communities and work in community development and inclusion has involved co-authored research reports, co-designed resources for self-advocacy and employment inclusion, and developing an Accessibility Inclusion Action Plan for Thorne Harbour Health to reduce barriers and support community participation for LGBTIQA+ people with disabilities.


Shane Hryhorec – Innovation

Shane connects communities, councils, surf life savers clubs and people with disability around Australia to make over 50 Australian beaches more accessible. Shane regularly delivers beach access training and workshops, lived experience advisory, hosting community accessible beach days, organising equipment test and trials, and has created a free online accessible beach and waterway directory.


Nikki Hind – Social Impact

Nikki Hind is Australia’s first legally blind fashion designer and the Founder of her fashion Blind Grit. Nikki is also the Fashion Editor for Wb40 – Women Beyond Forty Magazine and Magazine, she is a Disability and Inclusion advisor and media consultant. As the Fashion Editor of Wb40, Nikki’s passion is to change the around inclusion of disabled people and designers in the fashion industry. Writing features on “inclusive fashion” and why representation of the disability community matters, Nikki is making a powerful impact on how disabled women see themselves, but also changing the narrative on how mainstream media represents disability and fashion.


Kimberley Congram – Change Making

Kim worked to reform & transform the inclusion network for people with disability in the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) & the APS. She redeveloped the Celebrating Ability Network (CAN), growing membership from 0.3% to 11%. Her enthusiasm and leadership has built an environment of support & inclusivity, built trust amongst the cohort, & enhanced inclusion of people with disability & diversity.


Carol Taylor – Arts

Carol Taylor is a lawyer, award-winning artist, the world’s first quadriplegic fashion designer. In addition she is a disability advocate through both her works as a founding member of the Queensland Law Society Diverse Abilities Network and through her role as a non-Executive Director of Spinal Life Australia. Carol’s designs caught the attention of Mercedes-Benz fashion Festival Director. She was invited to design a collection of 9 pieces of adaptive clothing to open a runway event for Mercedes-Benz fashion Festival. This was a first of its kind for fashion inclusivity, it was the first time an all visible disability cast of models appeared on a national runway.


Wenn Lawson – Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement

Wenn’s impact on Australia’s Autistic community is unparalleled. He works with researchers around the world on vital topics like aging & quality of life, has written 20+ books & co-developed monotropism, a landmark person-centred theory to conceptualise autism. With generosity & wisdom he provides advice, mentors new leaders, supports families & helps ensure Autistic kids’ rights are met at school. Dr. Wenn Lawson was one of Australia’s first Autistic advocates & has educated and helped countless Autistic people, families and community members to see autism differently. Wenn is an experienced researcher, public speaker & author. He’s a proud family man & member of the LGBTQIA+ community.