(September, 2018)

 As a deaf person who has used Australian Sign Language (Auslan) since birth, Colin has had the opportunity to advance the human rights of deaf people and more broadly persons with disability for over 35 years by actively participating politically, professionally and socially in the disability sector.

In 2003, Colin was elected as a board member of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and in July 2011 became President, the first Australian to occupy this role. In July 2015, he was re-elected for a second term until 2019. In the human rights arena, Colin has represented WFD in international forums, most particularly the United Nations meetings relevant to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

In 2011, Colin became a board member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and in 2013, he became Second Vice Chair. In 2015, he was elected as First Vice Chair and in 2016, he became the Chair, a position he occupied for a two year term until June 2018.

The WFD and IDA roles are honorary positions with all work undertaken on a voluntary basis.

During his involvement with WFD and IDA, Colin has played a key role in guiding and representing WFD and IDA’s engagement with the UN System and other international human rights and international development organisations.  His commitment to human rights was exemplified through representing IDA at the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [CRPD] Committee Session Meetings in Geneva, at Annual State Parties’ Conferences of CRPD, the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the United Nations High Level Meeting on Disability and Development in New York, the 2016 UN Social Forum in Geneva and 22nd APEC High Level Forum on Disability in Beijing, China.  He also led 22 representatives from organisations of persons with disabilities as part of the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders delegation at the High Level Political Forum [HLPF] on Sustainable Development in July 2016 and also attended the HLPF in July 2017.   In addition, Colin represented IDA and was involved in the inaugural Global Action on Disability [GLAD] Network meeting in London [2015] as co-Chair, a role he also undertook at GLAD events in Berlin [2017] and Helsinki [2018].

He has been closely engaged with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for persons with disabilities worldwide including leading IDA’s strategic approach to awareness raising, capacity building and participation of persons with disabilities in the preparatory processes towards national reviews. Under his leadership, IDA’s mission was to ensure that the UN upheld the essential, unifying principle of the disability movement: ‘nothing about us without us’. This included implementing standards on full inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities, notably ensuring accessibility of decision-making spaces and documentation, meaningful participation in follow-up and review processes, and universal design throughout programme implementation.

He has also addressed international and national conferences as a keynote presenter and has presented workshops on issues related to human rights for both the Deaf Community and persons with disability in more than 60 countries.

In 2018, Colin was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. .  This Award is in recognition of Colin’s extensive service to his local Deaf Community in Sydney, his national Deaf Community in Australia and the international Deaf Community through development work in many countries including Albania, Cambodia, Kosovo and Serbia, and as a Board member and President of the WFD, as well as a Board member and Chair of the IDA.


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