2015 Access Awards Attracts UN Delegate and Disability Commissioner

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One of Australia’s most high-profile champions for people with disability, Graeme Innes, will be guest speaker at this year’s Tweed Access and Inclusion Awards presentation ceremony.

Innes was Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner from 2005 to 2014 and helped draft the Disability Discrimination Act in 1991. A lawyer by profession and a human rights practitioner for three decades, he was Australia’s delegate to the United Nations and drafted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Coordinator of the Access Awards, Council’s Aged and Disability Development Officer, Karen Collins, this week announced Mr Innes would be guest speaker at this year’s ceremony, being held on 3 December as part of local celebrations for International Day of People with Disability.

“To have such a prominent accessibility advocate speak at the ceremony is a tremendous boost for the awards,” she said.

“Graeme’s involvement is another fantastic progression for the awards, which have already grown significantly since they were launched in 2013. “His story and his message will be a wonderful addition to our local day of celebrations of access and inclusion.”

Nominations are open for the 2015 Tweed Access and Inclusion Awards, which celebrate achievement and innovation in building an accessible community.

Mr Innes has been a campaigner for people with disability since he was aged three. He started by fundraising for the then Royal Blind Society and spun the chocolate wheel with internationally-acclaimed dancer and actor Sir Robert Helpmann at a fundraiser for the Victor Maxwell Kindergarten. The society was superseded by the national blindness agency Vision Australia, which Mr Innes headed as its first Chair.

He helped draft the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the National Disability Strategy and the Disability (Access to Premises – buildings) Standards 2010. His current roles now include serving as a Director for the Attitude Foundation, which was established last year by people passionate about the inclusion of people with disabilities in society.

Mr Innes said International Day was important to celebrate the achievements of people with disability in all regions of Australia. “So I wanted to be part of the celebrations in the Tweed,” he said. “I hadn’t been able to do that while I was a Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, so I’m pleased to have the opportunity now.

“There has been good progress in improving access and inclusion but there’s still a long way to go.”

Nominations close on 2 October for the Tweed Access and Inclusion Awards and the accompanying Belonging Award, which recognises businesses and groups that are doing a great job at making all kids feel like they belong.

Nominations forms and further information are available at www.tweed.nsw.gov.au

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