Statement on the death of Tasmanian disability advocate Mary Guy
I would like to acknowledge the immense contribution to the lives of people with disability made by Tasmanian disability activist Mary Guy, who passed away on Tuesday.
Ms Guy spent her life continually and forcefully fighting for the rights of people with disability to be treated as individuals and to be included in the community.
She was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 and is on the Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women. In 2008 National Disability Services (Tasmania) recognised her as a Champion for Disability and I had the great privilege of meeting her to present this award.
Mary Guy became a quadriplegic after contracting polio at the age of eight but this did not prevent her from a career in disability services and a lifetime of advocating for the rights of people with disability.
She helped secure Government recognition of the need for in-home support for people with a disability and was instrumental in establishing new programs enhancing independence.
She has worked on numerous issues including community awareness, access, building codes, transport, education and discrimination.
Her courage at fighting against prejudice was an inspiration to many people, and her legacy will be the better conditions she fought to establish for people with disability.
Mary Guy was a long-serving member of Glenorchy City Council, and was an early advocate of many of the principles of inclusion and access for people with disability that are now reflected in mainstream policy.
She was also involved in the work of many non-government organisations including Cosmos Recreational Services, Community Based Support and National Disability Services
She pioneered many of the principles that are now embedded in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability. Her drive and accomplishments challenged people’s preconceptions of what people with disability are capable of, and have made it easier for the disability advocates who came after her.