26 October 2010
Senator Mitch Fifield today acknowledged the invaluable contribution made by disability advocate Anne McDonald and mourned her passing on Friday.
Anne McDonald was a committed advocate for people with a disability and her activism forged the way for recognition of the rights of people with a disability in Australia.
Ms McDonald was born with severe cerebral palsy, unable to talk or walk, and spent the first part of her life in a state institution.
After beginning facilitated communication training with fellow disability advocate Rosemary Crossley AM, Anne was able to communicate and sought to leave the institution in which she was placed.
The legal action that followed marked a significant step forward in the rights of people without speech.
Ms McDonald completed her Higher School Certificate after leaving the state institution and was one of the first people without speech in Australia to obtain a university degree.
The story of Anne McDonald’s struggle was made into an award winning film in 1984, based on her autobiography ‘Annie’s Coming Out’.
More recently, she was awarded the Personal Achievement Award in the Australian 2008 National Disability Awards for her advocacy for the rights of people without speech.
Anne McDonald was a stalwart of the disability rights movement and she will be sorely missed by those who share her dream of equity and rights for people with disability.
Her legacy is the improved public awareness of the needs of people with a disability and a thriving disability sector committed to improving the lives of Australians with disability.