Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blind pioneer named 2011 Senior of the Year in NSW, Australia

From North Shore Times in Australia:

Ron McCallum (pictured), the first blind person appointed professor at an Australian university, has been named the NSW Senior Australian of the Year for 2011.

Professor McCallum, 62, of Artarmon, became Dean of Law at Sydney University in 2002.

In 36 years of teaching law his students included former treasurer Peter Costello and Labor ministers Bill Shorten and Brendan O’Connor.

Prof McCallum was named NSW Senior Australian of the Year for his campaigning for equal rights for people with disabilities.

“For far too long people with disabilities have been treated using the medical model where they are either cured or looked after,” he said.

The professor, who is chairman of the monitoring committee for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said the UN used the social approach, where people with disabilities had the same human rights as other people.

“We are not a subset of human beings - we want to be full citizens, to be employed and provide for our families,” he said.

Prof McCallum said it was an honour to receive the award and he hoped it would bring more attention to the rights of people with disabilities.

The professor is chairman of radio for the Print Handicapped of NSW Co-operative, deputy chairman of Vision Australia and part of the Federal Government’s National People with Disabilities and Carers Council.

He will join other NSW award recipients as finalists for the national awards, which will be announced on January 25.