Christopher Newell Award

Christopher Newell

Christopher Newell AM (1964-2008) was a leading researcher and advocate on disability and communication. As a person with disability, he undertook pioneering work in the telecommunications field to foreground questions of disability and accessibility in Australian telecommunications. His many government and industry roles include being Chair of the Australian Communications Industry Forum Disability Advisory Body and a member of the council of the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. He was a delegate to the 2020 Summit convened by the Prime Minister, Hon. Kevin Rudd, in April 2008 in Canberra.

Terry Flew writes the following, “The late Christopher Newell has been one of Australia’s leading thinkers and activists around issues related to communications access, particularly with reference to disability, and to social justice questions more generally. He had been an active contributor to many ANZCA conferences, and in both his individual work and in collaboration with authors such as Gerard Goggin, a pioneer in publishing on disability and communication” (MIA, ANZCA President’s Report 2009).

He also researched and published extensively in fields such as medical ethics, spirituality, pastoral theology and bioethics, and was awarded the Order of Australia in 2001 “for service to people with disabilities, particularly through advocacy and research, to the development and practice of ethics and to health consumers.” He was awarded the Australian College of Educators highest award, the College Medal, in 2008.

He was a regular participant in ANZCA conferences and associated journals, and was a pioneer in establishing disability and communication research in Australia. He was the author, with Gerard Goggin, of Digital disability: the social construction of disability in new media (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), and Disability in Australia: exposing a social apartheid (UNSW Press, 2005).

This prize both commemorates Christopher Newell’s contribution to the field of disability and communication research, and aims to advance research and scholarship in this field. The prize will be awarded annually to the best paper dealing with matters relating to disability and communication, or to questions of equity, diversity and social justice as they pertain to communication, that is submitted as a refereed paper to the ANZCA conference.

The panel judging the prizes will consist of the President of ANZCA, the Vice-President of ANZCA (typically the chief conference organiser for that year), and a person seconded by the President to judge on the basis of their expertise in the field. This panel will have completed its deliberations prior to the conference, and the prize will be awarded at the conference. Members of Christopher Newell’s family will be advised of the winning paper, and may be asked to contribute where appropriate to the selection process.

Click here for a list of past recipients.