- Associate Dean Academic of the Faculty of Science Associate Professor Cate Thomas nominated for an Aspire Award
- Professor Thomas was nominated in the category of Government and Non-Government by colleague Dr Denise Wood
- Winners of the awards, which recognise the contribution made by people with disability, will be announced at a national event on Friday 30 October
Associate Professor Cate Thomas has always focused more on the abilities associated with her disabilities.
Professor Thomas said Charles Sturt University was more than welcoming and accepting when she commenced work at the University in 2012 as a Senior Lecturer in Social Work in the Faculty of Arts and Education in Wagga Wagga.
The support she has received from the University has enabled her to progress her career and become an advocate within the University and wider Wagga Wagga community.
It is this determination, enthusiasm and ability to inspire that has earned Professor Thomas a nomination in the upcoming Aspire Awards.
The Aspire Awards recognise the contribution made by people with disability across a range of categories, including business, law, medicine, arts, human rights and sport.
Professor Thomas is nominated in the Government and Non-Government category, which recognises people with disability in the public service or working as teachers and lecturers.
“I felt quite humbled in the sense it’s amazing that I’ve been nominated and I’m excited at the same time,” she said.
“For me, it comes down to the whole aspect of inclusion and celebrating ability rather than disability.
“We are people first and I think sometimes that’s forgotten. It’s amazing how resilient people with disability are.”
Professor Thomas has hearing and mobility impairments and connective tissue disorder, what she calls ‘hidden disabilities’.
“Just because you can’t see a disability doesn’t mean people may not have one,” she said.
She said everyone has a contribution to make to their community or workforce and is advocating for education surrounding people with disability.
Her hope is that all workplaces are as supportive and understanding as Charles Sturt has been when it comes to employing people with disability.
“Charles Sturt University has been absolutely sensational,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t have that support and flexibility to contribute to the University.
“It’s a beautiful atmosphere of people who do acknowledge that you might have a tough day.”
Charles Sturt Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov said Professor Thomas was deserving of the recognition and wished her luck for the announcement of the winners in October.
“Charles Sturt University prides itself on being an inclusive university that supports and advocates for diversity and provides a safe and inclusive environment for all of our staff and students,” he said.
“Professor Thomas has overcome obstacles to continue to contribute to producing a world worth living in and is an inspiration within the University and the wider community.”