On Wednesday 16 August, the Victorian Disability Awards ceremony took place at Melbourne’s Federation Square. Interchange Outer East’s Family Camp program – now in its 26th year – had been nominated for an award and had successfully reached the finals in the  Excellence in Promoting Health, Housing and Wellbeing category. I was lucky to attend with Kimberley, IOE Children and Family Services Team Leader, Karen from Family Support and long time IOE members, the Cameron family -Kathy, Ruth, Margo and little Alexandra.

It was a wonderful event and it was so good to see some of the other fantastic work that is going on in our community and all the different ways that individuals and groups are promoting inclusion, well-being and innovation in the disability sector.

Interviewed on stage was 17 year old Bryce Pace from VicSRC who is also a mentor with the I Can Network. Bryce was presented with his Emerging Leader award and it was great to see how, in just a few years, Bryce had gone from hiding his disability, to becoming a proud and public advocate for young people with a disability.

It was also quite moving to hear from Dylan Alcott OAM, recipient of the inaugural Minister’s Award for Outstanding Leadership. After listening to both of their stories, I leaned over to Kimberley and said, ‘We need to get these two to speak at our next conference!’

Even though we didn’t win, Interchange Outer East Family Camp was recognised in our category with the Highly Commended award, and we were presented with a beautiful framed certificate for us to proudly display for years to come. It now has a prominent position in Yose St reception!

Congratulations to the team at Rebecca Court, a group home for young men with challenging behaviours, who won the award in our category.  Congratulations too to all the  finalists and winners and thank you to DHHS and NDS for hosting such a warm and inspiring event.

By Faye Lougheed