Celebrating 2023 Fishability award winners

  • Fishability champions across WA have been honoured for their service in 2023
  • Key to Fishability’s growing success is its dedicated volunteers
  • Helping people with disability enjoy fishing experiences for 20 years

The Cook Government is proud to support the wonderful volunteers who are hooked on delivering people with disability the enjoyment of one of Western Australia’s most popular pastimes – recreational fishing.

At an awards ceremony last night, Fishability marked its 20-year celebration at the Royal Perth Yacht Club, which won the Chairman’s Award for their ongoing partnership and support since 2003.

The Fishability concept was initiated in 2000 by Volunteer Fishing Liaison Officer – the late Neville Thomas – as a program to provide opportunities for people with disability to enjoy the excitement and reward of fishing. Fishability was incorporated as a not-for-profit association in 2003.

This year’s winners of the “Nev Thomas Award’ – which honours Fishability volunteers across Western Australia – were Geoff Raftis of Perth, and Maureen Hanna of Albany, for their selfless dedication within their respective programs.

Winners in the ‘Unsung Heroes’ category included Chas Riegert of Waroona, honoured for being the driving force in developing the Freshwater chapter of Fishability, retiring member of the Albany team John Strahan, and Rose Aramini of Donnybrook – who drives to Busselton every Thursday to help Fishability participants and other volunteers.

Other ‘Unsung Heroes’ acknowledged last night were Michael Brennan from Perth’s Boat Program, joint winners from Mandurah – Brian Pert and “Vince” McCormack – who make a great team supporting the Fishability Schools Program, and Allan Pusey for five years with Fishability Geraldton.

The Cook Government provides $100,000 annually for Fishability, and a further $50,000 is allocated from the ‘Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund’, which puts licence fees to work on projects that enhance recreational fishing activities across the State. More information is available at fishability.org.au

As stated by Fisheries Minister Don Punch:

“Congratulations to the 2023 Fishability award winners, and to all of our amazing volunteers in Western Australia, including the 14 great people who’ve just earned Volunteering Badges for five years’ service with this commendable organisation.

“It was also a pleasure to present Fishability with a Lotterywest grant of $77,000 last night, which will support a vessel fit out, that will help Fishability double the capacity of its very popular Perth Boat Program.

“Lotterywest’s grant will also contribute towards a vehicle for Fishability Bunbury that will transport, and store equipment that’s currently moved using volunteers’ private vehicles.”

/Public Release. View in full here.