ADELAIDE'S Kyran Hughan found a likeness in the reputation of the father he never knew for being a disrupter in championing inclusion and disability access across Ballarat.
Mr Hughan had been searching the past 15 years for Matt Mattson who he finally traced to a VALiD peer action group, which celebrates International Day for People with a Disability each year by Lake Wendouree.
On Tuesday, Mr Hughan found a legacy for a man, now deceased, but whose outspoken passion lives on in an award co-named with fellow inclusion champion Shane Everard.
"He was challenging the status quo, which is important and something I like to do," Mr Hughan said. "...This is not just about remembering him but but about the actual work he did. We're all limited in what we can do as an individual but as a collective strength we can do much."
This is not just about remembering him but but about the actual work he did.Kyran Hughan
Mr Hughan said it was surreal to stand in the same pavilion Mr Mattson had celebrated disability rights in this community.
VALiD community development manger David Craig everyone had a role to play in inclusion. He said tackling key issues was not just about people with a disability but to benefit everybody from workplaces to sporting clubs and getting about the region.
There are still a lot of people with disabilities living in an apartheid world of sheltered workshops and disability sporting teams.David Craig, VALiD community development manager
"There are still a lot of people with disabilities living in an apartheid world of sheltered workshops and disability sporting teams," Mr Craig said.
"We encourage people to do more but often this left to a few...Our customer audits, the way in which we decide the awards, are also for places in Ballarat that may not be easy for physical access but are friendly and helpful. Social welcome is just as important as the physical issues in the community."
City of Ballarat deputy mayor Belinda Coates, in her opening address, said the community had come a long way in improving inclusion but still had a long way to go. Cr Coates said Ballarat could know it had truly made progress when access and inclusion were not terms no longer needed, because no-one was left behind.
This year's Shane Everard-Matt Mattson Memorial Award was earned by Ballarat Wildlife Park.
Mr Mattson was best-known for his work to champion better access to buildings and along footpaths for people in wheelchairs.
- READ MORE: We are proud to have known Matt Mattson
Mr Hughan said he had been uncovering a sad story of his father from an orphanage to the military and the stroke that affected his mobility.
"I think that's where he found his voice a bit - he found a voice to stand up and demand change for people with disability," Mr Hughan said.
Mr Hughan, who now lives in Bendigo, has discovered a few sisters and brothers after first tracking down a sister who had presented the Shane Everard-Matt Mattson award in their father's honour a couple of years ago.
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