Donna Traynor (journalist and BBC presenter) announced the Awards winners. The independent judging panel had commended Autism NI for its consultation with and empowerment of a regional network of families to promote a cause and to address a great inequality within the disability sector.
The skill of the organisation in building its campaign on researched models of innovative legislative and political action worldwide was recognised. Additionally there was mention of the organisation being the author of a range of influential strategic publications and a founder member of the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership within the UK and Ireland. This was felt to have been very effective in establishing Autism NI’s credentials and reputation as an effective, active and innovative agent for real change.
In particular the Judges noted the leading role of AutismNI in the signing of an agreement between the NI Assembly and the US Congress leading to the creation of the All Party Group on Autism and its commitment to the introduction of the Private Members Bill on Autism.
Arlene Cassidy (CEO, AutismNI) who received the Voyager Award on behalf of AutismNI , commented
“Thank you CO₃ for this honour. This Voyager Award is wonderful recognition and comes to us at a very challenging stage in our very long journey to achieve recognition and equality for a disability that is so little understood and yet which is the most rapidly increasing disability in Northern Ireland. This is tremendous encouragement and will lend strength to our campaign that government must listen to the legitimate voice of families for changes to current legislation that fail to protect their rights as citizens”.
Autism NI congratulates fellow Voyager Leader category winners, finalists and nominees who all demonstrated the excellence, resourcefulness, innovation and stamina that make up the Third Sector in Northern Ireland.