An Ocean Reef mother who uses a wheelchair has won a major award for championing access rights for people with disabilities across Australia.
Disability Services Minister Margaret Quirk said Kylie Gatti was an inspiration and a worthy winner of a 2005 Access Communities Award for her tireless efforts to improve opportunities for people with disabilities.
Mrs Gatti is one of nine individuals and groups from around the State to win awards, joining the Art Gallery of WA’s ‘Sensation’ exhibition which included touch tours, a dolphin education program for children with disabilities and a surf club that encourages membership of people with disabilities.
Ms Quirk announced the winners today, on the eve of International Day of People with a Disability, Saturday, December 3.
“Mrs Gatti has been unstoppable in her work to make sure people with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities as other members of the community,” the Minister said.
“Through her representation on the national ‘Inaccessible Unacceptable’ campaign, which includes ‘sit-ins’ to expose public venues that do not offer disability access, she has brought access barriers to the attention of a wide range of people.
“She knows through personal experience the frustrations of being denied access and is using her knowledge in her work as an advocate for all Western Australians with disabilities.”
Organised by the Disability Services Commission, the Office of Seniors’ Interests and Volunteering and People With Disabilities (WA) Inc, the Access Communities Awards showcase initiatives and people who improve the quality of life of people with disabilities through better access to venues and services.
Ms Quirk said the Art Gallery of WA won the overall Dr Louisa Alessandri Award for Excellence for providing people with a wide range of disabilities access to its Rodin exhibition.
“’Sensation’ was an outstanding way for people with disabilities to join in this great exhibition, with signed tours for people with hearing difficulties, touch tours for people who were vision impaired and interpretive trails around the gallery,” she said.
“As well, the gallery made substantial access improvements such as installing sliding doors, lowering drinking fountains and counters, adding ramps in the Sculpture Garden and providing wheelchairs for visitors with disabilities.”
Ms Quirk said the awards were an important way to highlight that, while much had been achieved to improve levels of access across WA, barriers were still a reality for many people with disabilities.
“It is not acceptable that a person is denied access to services and venues the rest of us enjoy simply because they have a disability,” she said.
“As today’s awards demonstrate, access improvement is an area where the whole community can make a difference.”
Winners in other categories are:
State Government award:
Winner - Art Gallery of Western Australia for its ‘Sensation’ exhibition that allowed people with disabilities to enjoy art through touch and other senses.
Local government award:
Winners (large) -
City of Wanneroo for its specialised Dolphin Aquatic Education Program, teaching up to 215 children with disabilities to be safe and enjoy the water.
City of Rockingham for a range of projects, including an initiative to develop individual plans for each child at Warnbro Community High School Education Support Centre to secure employment in the local area.
City of Swan for a range of initiatives to promote inclusion and participation for marginalised groups including people with disabilities and seniors.
Winner (small) -
Shire of Dardanup for raising the level of access throughout the shire including public buildings, footpaths leisure facilities and parks.
Commendation - Shire of Carnamah for improvements throughout the shire, including those made to footpaths, the swimming pool and the historic Town Hall.
Community organisation award:
Down Syndrome Association for its program to help teachers better include students with Down Syndrome.
Coogee Beach Surf Lifesaving Club for its programs to actively encourage people with disabilities to become valued club members.
Technology Assisting Disability WA for its efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities by designing, constructing and maintaining aids and equipment.
Newman YMCA for a range of programs to include local children with disabilities in its activities and services.
Winner - Kylie Gatti of Ocean Reef, WA’s representative for the national ‘Inaccessible Unacceptable’ campaign, for championing access issues with businesses and working to keep access at the forefront of community attention.
Winner (large) - Australian Schools of Tourism and Hotel Management of Bunbury for tailoring a course to meet the needs of students with disabilities and supporting them to successfully complete the course.
Commendation: BHP Billiton Iron Ore for modifications to houses in Newman to ensure residents with disabilities can continue to live in the town.
Winners (small) -
Pilbara Outback Safaris of Port Hedland for providing supported outback adventure holidays for people with disabilities in specially designed transport.
BSP Plumbing of Malaga for providing work experience opportunities to students with autism spectrum disorders.
University of the Third Age for providing learning opportunities and a forum for interaction and socialising for people over 50 years.
Perth Theatre Trust for proving low-cost lunchtime concerts and community events that attracted about 7,000 seniors in 2004.
Minister's Office - 9213 7000