Lauren Henley, Blind Australian of the Year 2023
Guide Dogs Victoria would like to congratulate Client and advocate Lauren Henley on being named Blind Australian of the Year for 2023.
The award, which is presented by Link Vision, celebrates the exceptional contribution of a blind Australian who, by example, inspires others to excellence and, by action, improves Australian community life.
Lauren, 37, who was praised for “her drive to create real and tangible shifts towards an inclusive Australian society”, has advocated for Australians with disability at the United Nations and issued a complaint to the UN that resulted in the Federal Government increasing the availability of audio description on ABC & SBS and working with all broadcasters to improve the availability of audio description.
Lauren, who is the Senior Systemic Advocate with the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, lost her sight in a car accident when she was 20.
Lauren said she was grateful for the help she received from Guide Dogs Victoria.
“One of my most valued supporters is my Guide Dog, Valentina, who has been a key player in helping me establish a healthy work-life balance,” Lauren said.
“Guide Dogs Victoria provided Valentina and the orientation and mobility support I needed to get out in the world and live my life.
“Without Valentina, I wouldn’t be able to get out and enjoy nature outside of advocacy work and, of course, she helps me get the right kind of attention when I’m in the presence of senators!”
Lauren’s advice to anyone interested in advocacy work is “don’t feel you aren’t qualified to get your foot in the door, there are always ways into things, most of my work has come about through people”.