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National award acknowledges commitment to disability employment - 19 August 2015

Disability Employment Australia, 19 August 2015

This week Disability Employment Australia will honour an exceptional individual from Sydney for his significant and long-term contribution to Australia’s disability employment sector.

This is the sixth year of inductions into Disability Employment Australia’s Hall of Fame, with the national awards commencing in 2010 to celebrate outstanding contributions to disability employment.

The 2015 inductee is:

Mr Graeme Innes for his long-standing and substantial dedication to increasing employment participation for people with disability.

Graeme Innes AM is a well-known and instrumental force behind disability employment in Australia. 

Graeme is a lawyer, mediator, company director, husband, father and sailor and was Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner from December 2005 until July 2014. During that time he has also served as Australia's Human Rights Commissioner for three and a half years and as Race Discrimination Commissioner for two years.

As Commissioner, Graeme has led or contributed to the success of a number of initiatives. These have included the Same Sex: Same Entitlements inquiry, which resulted in removal of discrimination across federal law; the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and its ratification by Australia.

Graeme was also crucial to the development of the National Disability Strategy and the Disability (Access to Premises – buildings) Standards 2010; as well as the establishment of Livable Housing Australia.

Graeme has also been an active high profile advocate for the implementation of cinema captioning and audio descriptions and, as Human Rights Commissioner, undertook three annual inspections of Australia’s Immigration Detention facilities.

Graeme has been a Member of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal; the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal; and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. He has also been a Hearing Commissioner with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Graeme was Chair of the Disability Advisory Council of Australia, and the first Chair of Australia's national blindness agency, Vision Australia.

In 1995 Graeme was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). In 2003, he was a finalist for Australian of the Year.

Of particular importance to Disability Employment Australia is Graeme’s passion and dedication to increasing employment participation for people with disability.  Australia has one of the lowest rates of workforce participation for people with disabilities among OCED countries with Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing that only half of them are working.   I am sure you will all agree with Graeme when he says "Employment is a game changer for people with a disability."

Graeme since his kindergarten years has been a strong advocate for people with a disability and now chairs the Attitude Foundation.  Through story telling it is hoped that people’s thinking, attitudes and behaviour will change.  The Foundation’s aim is to promote an understanding of the issues surrounding disability. Telling stories demonstrates the benefits gained by full inclusion of people with disabilities into every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Graeme Innes is a very welcome and deserving addition to Disability Employment Australia’s Hall of Fame.

Graeme will accept this acknowledgement of his achievements at Australia’s Disability Employment Conference Gala Dinner at Sheraton on the Park, Sydney on Wednesday evening at approximately 9.00pm.

The announcement will be made by Disability Employment Australia Chairperson, Donna Faulkner.

•                 Full details of the Hall of Fame are available at: http://disabilityemployment.org.au/about-us/hall-of-fame/

•                 Full details of the conference program are available at: http://dea.conferenceworks.com.au/program/