Cairns Disability Awards recognise inspirational efforts!
Inspiring stories were shared as Cairns Regional Council today celebrated the achievements of local people who have proved that disability does not mean inability.
Mayor Bob Manning today presented five awards in recognition of Disability Action Week.
“Each of the recipients has their own special story to tell – each one an inspiration,” Cr Manning said.
“The Disability Action Week Awards recognise that great things can be achieved by people of all abilities.
“It also highlights the wonderful people in our community who go out of their way to assist others and to help people with disabilities to achieve their goals.
“I know all residents will join me in congratulating the recipients of today’s awards.”
Award recipients are:
Community Spirit Award: Shaun Gulliver
At the age of 18, Shaun acquired a brain injury as a result of falling from the back of a moving ute. Since Shaun’s accident in 2004, he has overcome many obstacles in a long journey of recovery.
Shaun has been able to regain speech, he continues to build strength in the left side of his body to the point where he now gets himself to the edge of his bed unaided and is able to spend short periods of time out of his wheelchair with the aid of a walking frame. These small goals are ultimately leading to Shaun gaining independent living – his next major goal.
Shaun has enrolled at TAFE and is studying business and business administration. Ultimately, Shaun wishes to work with youth as a mentor and motivational speaker.
Shaun has demonstrated true Community Spirit through his assistance and motivation to his fellow Young Lifestyle Care residents and community.
Young Community Spirit Award: Selena McMurray
In 2004, Selena suffered a rare adverse reaction to an immunisation. She lost both fine and gross motor skills, her ability to speak, feel pain and temperature as a direct influence of Peripheral Neuropathy. Through all this, Selena fought for her life and her previous level of independence. Since acquiring her disability,
Selena has been a Student Council Representative and House Captain; received Lions Child of Courage Award and Year 12 Academic Achivement award – among many others – and was last year crowned Babinda Harvest Festival Charity Queen and Miss Personality.
Selena works as a Meals on Wheels volunteer with her mother, Jody; is involved with the Babinda Taskforce; is an active volunteer and visitor with Abbeyfield aged care facility; and was a co-organiser of the “Ride for Isabel” coming to Babinda. Selena proposed and implemented the painting of directional guide lines through Babinda State School for children and guests with vision impairment and is an active member of the Christmas in Babinda Celebration Committee.
Individual Achievement Award: Tom Bennett
Tom has an acquired brain injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident when he was six years old. As a result, he has difficulty with higher order processing skills, fine motor skill movement, fatigue, verbal communication, sensitivity to noise and loss of vision in his left eye.
Tom spent 11 months in rehabilitation at the Royal Children’s Hospital. When he left, he could speak a little and mainly communicated through sign language. Due to his pre-accident nickname of “Tommy talk-a-lot”, he has been determined to communicate and is making slow but steady improvement. Through many physical setbacks and personal battles, Tom has displayed a stoic demeanour and an amazing level of maturity.
Tom is a happy boy with a wonderful attitude to life and a strong sense of humour, which have been his greatest assets in life. He inspires his fellow students with his “never say never” attitude. To quote Tom: “I am glad this accident has happened to me because I can greater understand people in life”. Tom is currently writing his autobiography.
Community Support Award: Far North Queensland Cerebral Palsy Support Group
The FNQ Cerebral Palsy Support Group is a charitable organisation run by a small group of passionate parents of children affected by cerebral palsy and similar physical disabilities. The Group helps families, mainly in the Cairns regional community, to access much needed non-government−funded therapies and activities that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive and limited both in availability and accessibility.
Since its inception nearly four years ago, when five founding families first met, the FNQ Cerebral Palsy Support Group has grown considerably and now supports more than 70 children with not only cerebral palsy, but with spinal injuries and other physical disabilities. The Group works hard to raise awareness of cerebral palsy in the Far North Qld community, with the emphasis on inclusiveness, focusing on the children’s capabilities rather than their disabilities.
Carers Award: Sharon Williamson
Sharon has worked with people with a disability for 30 years in Victoria, NSW and Queensland as a carer and support worker. Sharon is dedicated to assisting people with disabilities not only in a physical sense, but has created an online directory called Disability Online, Australia’s disability hub. The site contains information on many disabilities, where to access services within a person’s region, travel, aids and equipment and more. Sharon has committed her own time and funds to create this.