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Autism Queensland News

Congratulations to our 2023 Recognition Awards Winners

Each year Autism Queensland seeks nominations from across the community for these Awards that recognise the outstanding achievements of autistic individuals, parents/carers, professionals, schools, businesses, community organisations, volunteers and others. In 2023 we congratulate the following winners and special commendation awardees, and applaud all nominees.

Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM, Governor of Queensland hosted the 2023 Recognition Awards Ceremony at Government House on the afternoon of Wednesday 29 November 2023.

(Above): Her Excellency (Centre), AQ Chair Neil Makepeace (centre left), AQ CEO Pam Macrossan (centre right) with the Award winners and Special Commendation recipients. 

Individual Achievement Award (Under 18)

Presented to an autistic Queenslander under 18 years of age to recognise personal achievement.

Oliver (Oli) King
Oli began riding horses as a school holiday activity, but this year saw him compete on the world stage at the Special Olympic World Games in Berlin. He was the youngest member of the Australian team, one of only four competing in the equestrian competition and won three medals. Congratulations Oliver on this fantastic achievement.

Special Commendation: Chloe Dunn, Leilarnie Short, Jack Plunkett.

Individual Achievement Award (18 years and over)

Presented to an autistic Queenslander 18 years and over to recognise personal achievement.

Dr Chris Edwards
Dr Chris Edwards was presented this award in recognition of his contribution to autism research as among other roles, an autistic post-doctoral researcher at Autism Spectrum Australia and an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University. His contribution to the wider autism community includes involvement in research on educational practices, inclusion, mental health and well-being.

Special Commendation: Josephine Moon, Oliver Hetherington-Page, Caleb Maas. 

Parent/Carer Award

Presented to a Queensland parent or carer of an autistic person in recognition of the role they play in supporting that family member.

Margaret Martin
Margaret was nominated for this award by her son Kaleb: “My mother has been my steadfast advocate for the past 23 years and five months since my adoption.  From the very beginning, she believed in my potential when others doubted it. Her belief in me has defied all odds, illustrating that with unwavering support, one can overcome even the most formidable challenges. Kaleb is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Primary School Teaching.”

Special Commendation: Carolyn Williams, Alexis Short, Benjamin Anderson.

Professional Achievement Award

This award recognises excellence by a professional working in the field of autism. The recipient will have a demonstrable track record of professional excellence in their chosen discipline.

Janelle Ford, Progressive Play
Janelle is a clinical nurse educator with a passion for mental health, disability and the maternal/child heath sectors. She was nominated for this award for her passion in ensuring autistic children have access to therapeutic modalities that are intrinsically motivating, most specifically Lego-based therapies for which she delivers training to health practitioners, other professionals and parents.

Special Commendation: Lizzie Vaughan, Cameron Armstrong, Irina Amelina.

School/Community Award

This award recognises excellence by a Queensland school/community organisation/business delivering education/support to autistic people.

The Experience Collectors
The multiple nominations received for The Experience Collectors spoke to their work in improving the well-being of autistic children, adults and their families through safe, supported low-cost or free community events, parties and meet ups and peer and parent support groups alongside delivery of a play-based therapy service. (Above: Tammy Watson and Kylie Reeves with Her Excellency.)

Special Commendation: Ascot State School, The Neurodiversity Network, Beenleigh Tennis Centre.

Patronage Award

This award is presented by Autism Queensland to recognise support of note by a business, organisation or individual.

Iwasaki Foundation
This award recognised the ongoing support of the Iwasaki Foundation to AQ and especially our centres in Central Queensland in Gladstone and Rockhampton. Since 2014, the foundation has provided annual grants that enabled the purchase of playground equipment and therapy resources. (Above: Desley Rial OAM and Vicki Bastin-Byrne with Her Excellency.)

Special Commendation: Liam Jurd (Frank Knight), Emma Tomlinson. 

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