Disability Advocate Honoured for MS Support

19 December 2013
Robert and Claire Pask at Questacon (portrait was taken by artist Amy Bugeja, Project Officer for the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute)

Robert Pask, advocate for people living with disability and chronic illness, has been awarded the Excellence in Advocacy & Rights Promotion Award at the 2013 National Disability Awards. Robert is a long-term supporter of Stem Cells Australia and has established a peer advocacy program for people living with Multiple Sclerosis. This program, developed over five years, uses a unique model of mentoring and networking that advocates use to progress their key issues.

Robert has also been a long-term champion of Australian stem cell research.  He has worked with scientists, patients and politicians through the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Australia and other initiatives, to ensure this important research continues to thrive. Importantly, Robert has been able to balance the hype and hope associated with stem cell science, with the true state of progress in the field, recognising that change takes time. Robert shares concerns of Stem Cells Australia about unproven treatments being sold to Australians with evidence that the treatments are safe or even work. 

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield, congratulated the winners at a ceremony at Parliament House. “This year’s field was exemplary, with many committed recipients whose work has helped improve the lives of Australians with disability and their families. Congratulations to the award recipients and all of the finalists who were recognised for the outstanding contributions they make to our community.”

The National Disability Awards formed an important part of the Australian Government’s celebration of the United Nations’ International Day of People with Disability.

Click here to listen to Robert’s acceptance speech upon accepting the award.

Another highlight of 2013, saw a photograph of Robert selected as part of a science photography competition. The Melbourne Neuroscience Institute, University of Melbourne, teamed up with Stem Cells Australia to photograph Robert, highlighting his support of people with disability take part in all aspects of social, economic and community life. Robert’s photograph was one of 32 that has been framed and will be on display at the Australian National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon) over the next three years.

Congratulations Robert!