Awards recognise outstanding contributions

The achievements and outstanding contributions of people living with a disability in Greater Geelong have been celebrated in the 2020 Geelong Awards for People with a Disability.

The awards celebrate people living with a disability in Greater Geelong who are doing outstanding work in advocacy, leadership and empowering others and in their contributions to volunteering, at work or in the community.

This year’s award winners have been announced, celebrating Greater Geelong residents across the four award categories of employment, achievement, leadership and advocacy, and volunteering.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, celebrations will take place online with a video of each winner shared on the City’s social media from Monday 23 November to Thursday 3 December.

Councillor Anthony Aitken said the awards play an important role in promoting inclusion in the region while celebrating extraordinary achievements in our community.

“Amidst an extremely challenging year, it’s important we all take the time to shine a light on the achievements of those in our community making a difference,” he said.

“We congratulate all of the award recipients and nominees for their extraordinary contributions and efforts in advocating for an inclusive community for all.”

genU CEO Clare Amies said the awards helped build inclusive communities.

“At genU, our vision is to build inclusive communities and we were incredibly proud to again be part of these awards,” she said.

“It’s so exciting to highlight these amazing efforts, and to build more understanding, awareness and diversity within the community.”

The 2020 award recipients are:

Michael Chan – Achievement Award

Michael is an active community and arts participant who has worked hard to overcome barriers. He uses the arts to nurture his desire to be a leader in the industry and believes that through a shared experience of art, we can unlock the power of our differences to create a thriving, dynamic world where we can all reach our full potential.

Michael works to improve perceptions of people with a disability within the local arts groups in which he participates and in 2019 he presented at the Meeting Place event in Canberra, demystifying misconceptions about people with disability participating in meaningful artistic practice and work as professional performers.

He sits on a number of committees and uses his personal story and the challenges he faces of living in his own world, brought by a diagnosis of high-functioning autism, to provide an important point of view and insight.

Tegan Whitten – Leadership and Advocacy Award

Throughout her adult life, Tegan has consistently fought for the equal treatment and access of all with a disability. She has torn down barriers and has consistently sought to educate her peers on issues of accessibility and inclusion.

As the Geelong Accessibility and Services Representative of the Deakin University Student Association, Tegan has been a driving force behind a number of initiatives that ensure equality, inclusion and accessibility.

A champion for simple yet important processes, Tegan has made tangible and real differences in the lives of Deakin students in the region.

Ainslee Hooper – Employment Award

Ainslee Hooper has her own consultancy business which helps businesses identify opportunities to remove invisible barriers through a holistic approach to accessibility – helping make their business more inclusive and increase profitability.

She also uses her social media platform and her podcast series to educate the community on different ways that business and the community can provide an equitable, inclusive and diverse environment for those living with a disability.

Ainslee encourages equality, inclusion and diversity within the workforce. She strives to do this daily and it is a core principle of her everyday practice.

Jake Anderson – Volunteering Award

Jake has been a volunteer at genU GAMER over the past 12 months. Jake joined genU GAMER, a youth-focused support service that uses gaming as the vehicle for self-development, as a participant.

Combining his strengths with the skills he developed at the program, Jake began taking other participants under his wing. He assisted many others to feel safe, part of “the tribe” and enabled them to achieve their own goals.

Jake is an extraordinary individual. Utilising his own lived experience, coupled with his compassion for others, Jake has found a unique way of supporting others through strength-based practices which appears to come naturally to him. He empowers others, listens and empathises and assists those around him to see their own strengths and value.

The awards are a partnership with genU, supported by the Barwon Disability Resource Council, Leisure Networks and the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with a Disability (VALiD).

The 2020 Geelong Awards for People with a Disability forms part of the City’s celebrations in the lead up to International Day of People with Disability on Thursday 3 December.

For the full program of free events celebrating inclusion in Greater Geelong, which runs from 23 November to 3 December, visit our Inclusion Week page.

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