Government to back new awards following anger over National Disability Awards cancellation
The Government said it will now support new awards that recognise people with disability, after cancelling the long-running National Disability Awards earlier this year.
Assistant Minister for Disability Services Sarah Henderson said the Federal Government will support the National Awards for Disability Leadership on December 3 — the International Day of People with Disability.
Leading disability organisations launched plans for the live webcast event after the Government cancelled the long-running National Disability Awards, a decision advocates say was made without consultation.
The Government said it will provide practical support and $30,000 in sponsorship for the new awards, which were announced hours after the ABC reported many in the disability sector were angered by the government's decision.
The Department of Social Services scrapped the National Disability Awards in February — without telling the nation's biggest disability peak bodies.
"One of our colleagues found out by looking at the website to find out about nominating somebody, and discovered that there was a statement saying that they were no longer running," said Christina Ryan from the Disability Leadership Institute.
"Getting rid of it was disappointing; not telling us was actually really quite appalling. It was a very brutal way of going about it."
The website said: "In 2018, the Government will not run the National Disability Awards as the main celebration of International Day of People with Disability on December 3rd.
"It's time to do something different."
Disabilityadvocate Sue Salthouse was the 2017 winner of the Lesley Hall Leadership award (one of the now former National Disability Awards).
"I felt that it was really a blow to the integrity of the disability sector and that it really devalued us.
"So, yes, it was very disappointing," she told AM.
The Government said it wants to recognise the achievements of people with disability in the broader community, supporting everything from the wheelchair rugby world championship to recognition at the Australian Human Resources Awards.
But until the Government announced it was supporting these new awards, none of these events were happening on December 3rd — the International Day of People with Disability.
"Not having them focussed on this particular day means that they're meaningless as far as our national day goes," Ms Salthouse said.
Peak body holding new awards
After the National Disability Awards were cancelled, some of the nation's biggest disability peak bodies said they plannedto hold the new National Awards for Disability Leadership on December 3 instead.
Organiser Christina Ryan said these awards will be different — they will all go to people with disability.
"What we realised every year as we sat through the award ceremony is that they weren't actually about us," she said.
"They were about other people being recognised for doing good works."
Earlier, Ms Salthouse said these awards were a new chapter, but the damage had been done.
"It doesn't allow the Government to really excuse themselves for having taken such a cavalier attitude to people with disabilities, and I'm very sad about that."
Also earlier, Ms Henderson told AM in a statement that since her appointment in August, she had heard some disappointment from the sector about the awards and she intended to review how to reinvigorate the National Disability Awards.