John Kenwright recognised at Victorian Disability Awards 2017

28 August, 2017

The Victorian Disability Awards 2017 took place on August 16 at Federation Square in Melbourne. The awards recognise people in the community who have made a difference to the lives of those living with a disability through empowerment and inclusion.

Nominated by Spire, John Kenwright, Access and Inclusion Coordinator at Parks Victoria, was a finalist in the Emerging Leader Award category.

John has been a driver of change in his role at Parks Victoria, improving access and inclusion across Victoria’s parks for people with all abilities. He has advocated – internally, locally and globally – for inclusive and accessible design of Victorian parks and recreational areas.

John has shown outstanding leadership in engaging stakeholders, including those with disabilities, disability organisations, volunteers and the broader community, to co-design and implement innovative design features and services in Victoria’s national parks – improving awareness, access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Working with Parks Victoria, John has promoted a culture of access and inclusion-focused design, resulting in facilities like the Eagle Skylift at Arthur’s Seat state park (read a review here).

“It’s been a great honour to be a finalist for a Victorian disability award. It’s amazing seeing the fantastic work people [are] doing to improve the everyday lives of people with disability, by promoting inclusion in our communities.”

“The work I’m involved in has looked at how we can make our parks more accessible and more inclusive for visitors with disabilities, so they can really enjoy our national parks and get the health and wellbeing benefits of being in nature.”

Some other highlights of John's work with Parks Victoria include:

  • Volunteer supported walking programs in Victorian parks for vision impaired visitors, in partnership with Blind Sports Victoria.
  • A health and wellness program for carers, in partnership with BrainLink.
  • Online park resources for families of children with autism spectrum disorder, to help parents prepare children for park visits, in partnership with Amaze.
  • The all-terrain TrailRider wheelchair program, to enable visitors with mobility impairments to explore many park trails that would otherwise be inaccessible. John assisted Parks Victoria in the development of a motorised version of a previously manual wheelchair, to better suit steep terrain. The motorised wheelchair has been adopted in parks in NSW, ACT and Tasmania.
  • Reviewing the design and testing beach access ramps at Phillip Island, including the creation of beach access matting for wheelchair users.
  • John, with Parks Victoria, has created more opportunities for people with disabilities, including making the Junior Rangers Program and park education programs for children and school groups more inclusive. He has created a more inclusive environment for volunteers, and provided more job opportunities with Parks Victoria for people with disabilities.
  • John is working with the tourism industry to raise awareness of the benefits of providing accessible visitor accommodation and other tourism services. He presented papers on accessible parks at the UN sponsored Destinations for All World Summit (Montreal 2014), and a workshop with international park managers at the IUCN Word Parks Congress (Sydney 2014).

John has shared his knowledge and experience with other state Park authorities/bodies, and at various international forums. He has worked tirelessly and passionately to make Victoria’s Parks and beaches enjoyable and accessible for people with disabilities.

More than 250 people came together to celebrate the achievements of the Victorian Disability Awards finalists - recognised for their outstanding contributions to empower and include people with a disability.

To find out more, or to read about other category winners and nominees, head to the Department of Health and Human Services website.

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