Catia Malaquias Wins 2018 “100 Women of Influence” Award for Diversity & Inclusion

The winners of the 2018 Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards were announced last night at a event held at Sydney’s Town Hall attended by more than 550 guests including NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Fairfax Media chief Greg Hywood, White Gallery owner and philanthropist Judith Neilson, former Sex Discrimination Minister Elizabeth Broderick, former David Jones chief executive Paul Zahra and OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn.

The prestigious Awards for 10 categories are drawn from a list of 100 women selected by a panel of judges and Starting With Julius founder Catia Malaquias, who is a lawyer and the mother of three children including Julius, was the Diversity and Inclusion Category Winner.

Catia advocates for equality, human rights and inclusion of Australians with disability and has also co founded All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education, the School Inclusion Parent Network (SIPN) and the Global Alliance for Disability in Media and Entertainment.  She also sits on the boards of the Attitude Foundation and Down Syndrome Australia.

The overall 2018 Women of Influence Winner was Professor Megan Davis who is the first Aboriginal Australian elected to a United Nations body, as Australia’s representative on the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous People and one of Australia’s most highly regarded lawyers specialising in public law and public international law.  She has also been a leading figure in developing The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Other 2018 100 Women of Influence Category Award winners are:

  • Naba Alfayadh (Happy Brain) – Young Leader Category Winner
  • Tracey Spicer – Social Enterprise and Not-for-profit Category Winner (Dual Winner Category)
  • Tanya Jackson-Vaughan (Refugee Advice and Casework Service) – Social Enterprise and Not-for-profit Category Winner (Dual Winner Category)
  • Megan Davis (University of New South Wales) – Public Policy Category Winner 
  • Aunty Gail Allison JP (Kindy Link, Nganggawalli Aboriginal Health Centre) – Local and Regional Category Winner
  • Jemma Green (Power Ledger) – Innovation Category Winner
  • Kate Swaffer (Dementia Alliance International) – Global Category Winner
  • Catriona Wallace (Flamingo Al) – Business and Entrepreneur Category Winner
  • Jingmin Qian (Abacus Property Group) – Board and Management Category Winner

Catia gave the following acceptance speech:

Thank you, I am deeply honoured to receive this award and I’d like to acknowledge all the finalists for their important work. It’s a privilege to be here with 100 amazing women and to join a group of alumni since 2012.

And still there are so many women everywhere who equally deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.

I would like to shout out in particular, to the hundreds,  no – millions – of women who are part of the disability community– formidable disabled women, mums of people with disabilities, partners, sisters, grandmothers and aunties – fighting for children’s rights to be safe and included in our schools, fighting for accessibility, open employment and fair wages, fighting to keep young people out of nursing homes, fighting for implementation of the NDIS and for the support services that the 90% of disabled Australians who are not eligible for it for it, will still need. 

Women every day, across this country are fighting for these basic rights at every level, calling for an end to discrimination and segregation – an end to “special places for special people” – and saying loud and clear: People with disability – that is 1 in 5 Australians – deserve respect, equality and inclusion.

To these proud women – women I love and admire – disabled activists and “inclusionistas” – I want to say, THANK YOU, for your guidance, knowledge and generosity – you have been critical to me as an advocate for my son’s rights and in supporting the work that I do in the hope for a better future for him and others. 

I would also like to thank my beautiful family and the support network I have around me – in particular my husband Sam who is in Perth tonight with our 3 children, Laura, Julius and Drea. The work that I do represents the combined effort and commitment of our family to upholding the human rights of people with disability. 

A huge thanks to Wesfarmers Department stores’ Kmart and Target – Guy and Nunzio – for understanding that disability inclusive advertising matters and for setting a consistent example across the country over the last 2 years – and which too many others are yet to follow.  I say this to retailers and advertisers – the only thing that inclusion asks of you, is that you stop excluding.

And I ask all of you to ask yourselves – what can we each we do, as individuals and as a society, to remove the many barriers – including attitude barriers – that continue to deny disabled people the same rights and opportunities most others enjoy?

The actions we take – or fail to take – matter.  Diversity is who we are – inclusion is how we treat each other.

Finally, thank you to the judges, the Australian Financial Review, Qantas and all the sponsors for these awards.

Have a great evening.

[Photos © 100 Women of Influence]

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