Celebrating the 2021 Inclusion Awards Nominees

Fri 18 Feb 2022

Celebrating the 2021 Inclusion Awards Nominees

Given the impacts of the COVID-19 Health Emergency, the 2021 Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards was not able to be held. 

However, to celebrate and acknowledge the individuals, organisations, and businesses nominated in 2021, rather than awarding individuals and organisations we wish to share the stories of the incredible nominees:    


Grind to Ground - Excellence in Inclusive Services and Disability Support

Grind To Ground began as a student project at CIT but has become a not-for-profit incorporated association in the ACT. The project started as a way to reduce landfill and create a soil-enhancing product for the Canberra community using used coffee grounds from local Canberra cafes and sawdust from the CIT carpentry department (both of which were previously going to landfill).  

There are currently more than 50 people involved in Grind to Ground.  

Grind to Ground Operations Manager, Lisa Pozzato said “we are so thrilled that this project is now able to provide volunteering, training, and employment opportunities for people with disability. It's incredibly fulfilling for the Grind to Ground team to produce a great sustainable product and be able to reduce landfill at the same time”.  



John Brookes - Life-time achievement in supporting people with disability  

John is a leader and volunteer in mental health space and disability sector.  

John's previous achievements include winning the 2020 Volunteering ACT Leadership Award and the Award for Inclusion in Volunteer Support at the 2019 ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Awards.  

When presenting John with the 2020 Volunteering ACT Leadership Award, Volunteering ACT said "Quite honestly, it’s going to be hard to touch on everything John has done to achieve this award. As John has lived a life of community ervice, having spent more than 25 years working in the charity sector" and we agree!


 Kim Congram - Excellence in Making Inclusion Happen

Kim Congram is a passionate and inspirational leader within the Australian Public Service, who seeks to ensure that inclusion and support of diverse groups, particularly people with disability, is at the forefront of decision makers minds.  

Kim was a key founding member of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department ‘Celebrating Ability Network’, growing its membership from 5 to 165 members. Kim drove substantive and systemic change within the department by changing the way it spoke about disability and inclusion.  

Kim was instrumental in authoring Department’s Disability and Mental Health Action Plan, and Flexibility and Inclusion Action Plan, setting clear actions to ensure the department delivered on its commitment to support diversity and inclusion.  

Kim actively shared this framework across the APS, and elements have found its way into other departments. Kim actively shares her leadership experiences at multiple Australian Network on Disability conferences, to inspire further change and motivate new leaders.


 Robyn Bielecki - Achieving inclusion through supporting the independence and wellbeing of people with disability

Robyn has worked for more than 20 years in the disability sector, and for the last 12 years as a carer.  

The people Robyn cares for and their families say "Robyn’s commitment to her role as carer goes well beyond the provision of required services. Robyn assists the men to increase their independence through the planning of, and participation in community events, social activities and sporting competitions. She supports them to expand their personal skills.  

"We consider Robyn as so much more than a support worker, she's an extension of all our families. Robyn makes herself available 24/7, even while on leave! She ensures the men lead busy, enriched and inclusive lives, and are able to achieve their goals and be active contributors to society". 


 Table Tennis ACT - Excellence in Innovation, Design and Access

Table Tennis ACT is a not for profit peak sporting organisation that welcomes new members of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.  

Table Tennis ACT has demonstrated a strong commitment to embedding inclusivity into everyday club activities as well as their culture by developing its first Diversity and Inclusion Plan.  

The Minister for Disability, Emma Davidson MLA, launched the Diversity and Inclusion Plan as part of Table Tennis ACT's I-Day activities. See a picture taken at the launch below.

President Heather Tomlinson said "Table Tennis ACT continues to form new partnerships to build inclusion in sport and expand our initiatives and programs for people with disability through our Para players coaching program and Para events in ACT Open Tournaments".


 Carol Jennings  - Excellence in inclusive services and disability support

Carol Jennings

Carol Jennings spends over 80 hours per week as a volunteer Chief Executive Officer for Abilities Unlimited Australia. 

Abilities Unlimited Australia, offer inclusive community sporting programs and recreational opportunities for children with disability in the ACT region. Through the Cyclabilities, WaterAbilities and MovAbilities Programs children learn road safety, riding, water safety, water survival skills and fundamental movement skills

In nominating Carol, Fiona Jarvis said "Through her dedicated and visionary volunteer work Carol demonstrates her commitment to prioritising inclusion in our community ensuring the enormous abilities of children with disability shine”.


 Karen England  - nominated for Excellence in Making Inclusion Happen 

Karen England is a woman with disability, mother of 2 and an exceptional leader and advocate for inclusion in the Canberra community.

Karen saw a distinct need for flexible learning services for people with disability in 2000 and founded ACT Literacy Tutoring. Expanding her services further in 2012, Karen founded the not-for profit Time Out Learning Centre.

Time Out Learning Centre offers trauma informed person-centred services, including specialised multi-sensory tutoring for literacy and numeracy and Neurofeedback/Brain Training which support people with disability gain skills and increase their capacity to access life opportunities and participate in community.

In nominating Karen her staff said "Karen understands first-hand the significance of increased confidence, self-worth and dignity on a person's wellbeing, and this is clear in her outstanding service provision. Throughout her life Karen has helped thousands of children and adults with disability previously struggling at school, building their skills, capabilities, confidence and, ultimately, their life choices”.


 Belco Arts’ IGNITE Program - nominated for Excellence in Innovation, Design and Access

The Belco Arts’ IGNITE program supports artists who identify as people with disability, d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing, chronically ill, neurodiverse or have mental health experience.Programs include IGNITE Gallery which assists artists to exhibit their work, access free exhibition options, develop their practice through professional exhibition experience, develop a CV and if they wish generate income from their work. IGNITE programs are mostly free of charge and cater to all levels of skill and experience.

IGNITE Programs Officer, Heidi Lefebvre says, IGNITE aims to foster cultural diversity and remove barriers for artists as makers and viewers.In 2022 Belco Arts will facilitate two exhibitions of work by IGNITE artists which will run in parallel with workshop programs providing training in curatorial practice, arts administration, arts writing and media and marketing.


 Juliette Robin - Nominated for Excellence in making inclusion happen

Juliette Robin is a Special Olympics athlete and volunteer who has participated in the Greater Canberra Club program for over 20 years. As a member of the Special Olympics Greater Canberra Club Committee and a woman with an intellectual disability, Juliette ensures the voice of athletes are heard and included in the club’s decision-making process. 

In nominating Juliette, Naazmi Johnston said, “As an avid swimmer, a proud moment for Juliette was winning Gold in Backstroke and Silver in Freestyle at the 2014 Special Olympics Australia National Games in Melbourne. Juliette  is passionate about supporting her fellow athletes to achieve their full potential through sport”. 


 Sue’s Legacy - Digital Storytelling Project nominated for Excellence in Innovation, Design and Access

‘Sue's Legacy’ - a digital storytelling project developed and delivered through a partnership between PhotoAccess, Gen S Stories and Women with Disabilities ACT, celebrates the legacy of the late Sue Salthouse.

‘Sue’s Legacy’ was an inclusive and collaborative project, removing barriers to participation and enabling seven women with disability to find and develop their voices as leaders, learn skills and share their very personal experiences. The stories created by the film makers Kerry Marshall, Louise Bannister, Joy Easter, Karyn Fearnside, Dianne McGowan, Marylou Minty and Kerry Snell are available on the Women with Disabilities ACT website.

The production team said, “The project ensured the women with disability who benefited from Sue Salthouse’s friendship, leadership and mentoring, were able to share their experiences and honour Sue’s legacy. Project participants also gained skills in narrative production, computer literacy, digital publishing and photographic communication and developed their capacities to participate in the media and visual arts sectors”.


 Care Taxi Australia  - Nominated for Inclusion in Business

Care Taxi Australia advise they provide a new concept of transportation that is person centred to mobilise the idea of care. Care Taxi clients can book recurring bookings with one phone call or email, and we send weekly reminder notifications. Care taxi doesn’t have any fixed hour charges.

Care Taxi Business Development Manager said, “ we support vulnerable members of the Canberra community and unlike regular taxi services, we take support to the next level, caring for our riders in every step of their outing”. 


 Hartley Lifecare - Nominated for Excellence in Inclusive Services and Disability Support


Hartley Lifecare (Hartley) is a Canberra-based not-for-profit organisation providing supported accommodation for people with disability, their families and carers. Hartley provides person centred support that actively involves family and friends under a family governance model, which enables people with disability to have opportunities to live their best life.

When nominating Hartley, the mother and guardian of a young man supported in his own home by Hartley, Sally Richard’s said, “Throughout the pandemic Hartley's employees continue to go above and beyond their normal duties in the best interest of the people they support. Hartley provides the best support workers in consultation with our sons and with us, the families, which enables the young men they support to have lives that are person centred in the true meaning of the words”.


 Marshall Marasha - Nominated for Excellence in Inclusive Services and Disability Support

Marshall has been a House Supervisor at the Hartley Lifecare property in Fisher since 2010. Marshall is committed to enabling those he cares for to experience life to the fullest, while managing the expectations of their respective family members.

The family members who nominated Marshall said, “Marshall is a warm, caring, and supportive team leader who ensures that the needs, wellbeing and safety of the residents are met at all times. Marshall goes out of his way to place the needs of the residents first. Marshall goes above and beyond in his caring for the residents and manages their financial and personal health requirements with sensitivity, empathy and dignity”.


 The Food Dispensary - Nominated for Inclusion in Private Sector Employment

The Food Dispensary is a small business owned by Travis and Stefanie Cutler, who in their kitchen located at the Torrens Shopping Centre, lovingly create a range of fresh pastas, slow-cooked sauces and ready meals that are sold in IGA stores and other independent grocers across the ACT and surrounds. The Food Dispensary has employed Austin, a young man with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as their apprentice. The Food Dispensary have embraced Austin’s abilities and made innovative reasonable adjustments to their processes and procedures to ensure Austin works to his strengths, enabling his skills and confidence to grow.

Timo Podlesak, Performance and Partnership Leader, Workways Belconnen said, “He’s smashed it out the park and he’s doing third or fourth year tasks as just a second year now. Which is really good. They’re extremely happy with him.”

In nominating the Food Dispensary Ros Kewley said, “the Food Dispensary assist Austin with his career goals and approach this employment journey in partnership with Austin. They believe Austin enhances their business and are always ready to coach and assist Austin to believe in himself. The Food Dispensary has had a big impact on Austin and the ripples of that reach into the broader ACT community, such as their collaboration with the Dinner with Friends initiative for people with disability”.

 ACT Courts & Tribunal Court Assistance Team - Nominated for Championing Rights, Protection and Justice

The Court Assistance team at ACT Courts and Tribunal, have produced an impressive body of work which is assisting people with disability to better access and navigate the justice system. The current team comprises Drani Sarkozi and Jesse Dichristofaro, with previous Disability Liaison Officer’s Jeremy Clay and Anton Saadeh contributing significantly to the work of the team. Projects include the creation of Plain English and Easy English versions of key court documents, directions, and in court tools; producing a 'Coming to court' and 'Accessibility' videos; the upgrading of accessible bathrooms to accommodate people with invisible disabilities; as well the procurement and distribution of braille copies and large print copies of the Oaths and Affirmations into all the court rooms, hearing rooms, and remote witness rooms. The Court Assistance team is looking to fill the Disability Liaison Officer position soon.

Drani Sarkozi said “ The Court Assistance team are members of the ACT Community of Practice which includes the Disability Liaison Officers from the Australian Federal Police, ACT Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid ACT, Victim Support, Child and Youth Protection Services and ACT Courts. This group has formed a connectivity between the justice sectors which has seen the sharing of information and enabled the tracking and continued assistance of our court clients. This has made a significant impact on a fairer access to the justice system for people with disability”. 


 Adam Robinson - nominated for Excellence in Support Work


Adam has been a disability support worker for over a decade and working with Jackson as a co-resident and his support worker for over 8 years. Jackson is a 35 year old man with a profound intellectual disability and very high support needs. Adam is a man who is completely committed to his employment and completely committed to Jackson and ensuring he has the best life he can have.

Jackson’s mother and guardian Sally  Richard’s nominated Adam and said, “Adam's achievements as a support worker, co-resident, advocate, ally and friend are remarkable. It is rare to find a support worker who is as committed to his profession as Adam. It is rarer to find a support worker who has remained in the same position, with the same person, employed by the same disability organisation for over 8 years. One of the reasons Jackson's life is so good and he is so settled and content is that he has consistent excellent support from Adam for over 8 years. Jackson's life is infinitely better for having Adam as his co-resident. His life has expanded in ways I would not have believed possible before”.

Wendy Millar - Nominated for Life Time Achievement in Supporting People with Disability 

Wendy Millar has worked with Hartley Lifecare for 42 years, was a teacher’s assistant at Malkara School, has cared for foster children and is currently the House Supervisor of a Hartley Lifecare property, caring for 3 female residents.

In nominating Wendy, the family of one of the residents said, “Wendy goes above and beyond an already demanding role to enhance the life of my sister, her fellow residents, their families, and the community. When the phone rings and my sister is being loaded into an ambulance with acute abdominal bleeding, Wendy is there, calmly instructing the paramedics on her situation, and still there, eighteen hours later, at 3.00am in the emergency ward at my sister's side. And when she does eventually head home, she has arranged for another of her team to take her place at my sister's side, day after day Wendy is there, until my sister is well enough to return home. Wendy has dedicated her life to enhancing the lives of people with disability and doing it with quiet determination, compassion, and professionalism. We often say thank you to Wendy, but formal recognition is so richly deserved”.