Member for Blaxland, Jason Clare congratulated Guildford local Gerard O’Dwyer on receiving the top honour at the Australian Government’s National Disability Awards held at the National Gallery in Canberra.
Mr O’Dwyer was presented with the Emerging Leaders Award which recognises an individual aged 15-35 years who is a leader in their community in raising awareness of and improving the outcomes for people with disability.
“Gerard is an influential advocate for people with intellectual disability,” Mr Clare said.
“Campaigning for the rights of people with disability, Gerard has challenged stereotypes and promoted inclusion and equality for people of all abilities in our community.
“Gerard was chosen from more than 200 nominations across nine categories. This is a truly fantastic achievement. I congratulate Gerard for this award and for his work advocating for people with disability.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas said it was vital to recognise individuals and organisations who help to overcome the barriers and challenges faced by people with disability.
“The annual National Disability Awards, now in their sixth year, are an important opportunity to celebrate the remarkable contributions that individuals, organisations and businesses, make to our community and to the disability sector.”
Senator McLucas said the Awards followed a historic year for the disability sector in Australia.
“The Australian Government is laying the groundwork for the largest disability reform ever undertaken in Australia – a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).”
“We are investing $1 billion for the first stage of an NDIS, which will begin from the middle of next year in five locations across Australia.
“More than 20,000 Australians with disability, their families and carers will benefit from the first stage of an NDIS, including in the Hunter region in New South Wales.”
The National Disability Awards form part of the Australian Government’s celebration of International Day of People with Disability, which occurs annually on 3 December and which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.
For more information on International Day of People with Disability visit www.idpwd.com.au
For more information on a National Disability Insurance Scheme visit www.ndis.gov.au
Gerard O’Dwyer Biography
Gerard’s work includes dramatic performances in film and television, including his role in the film ‘Be my Brother, which was screened at the Sprout Film Festival in New York in 2010 and for which he won Best Male Actor in 2009 at the Sydney Tropfest Film Festival.
He has used his dramatic work as a platform for further media appearances on major national television programs including The Nine Network’s Today Show, the Seven Network’s Morning Show and Network Ten’s The Project. He has used these appearances to promote the many contributions people with disability make to their communities.
In addition to his acting work, the judges highlighted Gerard’s work as a presenter at many events held by Down Syndrome NSW and as an advocate for the 2011 Care Careers National Commercial Campaign.
Gerard won Best Actor runner up in 2010 at the Short and Sweet Play Festival, the largest festival of 10 minute plays in the world, held at NIDA. Gerard’s most recent short film, ‘The Interview’, is currently under submission for various film festivals globally.
Gerard is currently an ambassador for Karelle Life Enrichment Service, a provider of services to people with intellectual disability.
As recently as September 2012, along with his colleague Alison Richardson, Gerard and Riverside Theatre Parramatta were awarded the Arts Access Award at the NSW Australian Business Arts Foundation Awards. On behalf of the Beyond the Square Program, they are in the running for the National Award.
Gerard was also an ambassador for the DontDIsMyAbility campaign in 2010 and 2011.