Disability Sector Mourns Passing of “Fearless Advocate”
7 February 2012 at 10:13 am
More than 100 community sector representatives gathered in Sydney to celebrate the life and achievements of Kim Walker (also known as Carol Pein), a passionate and fearless advocate of the rights of people with disability.
The event at the Redfern Town Hall was organised by the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, People With Disability (PWD) and Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS). Walker passed away on 26 December 2011, aged 55, after a short illness.
Walker was described as having had a tremendous impact on the many people that she has taught and worked with over the years – people with disability, disability workers, employers, police, support workers, volunteers, lawyers, domestic violence workers and even government ministers and politicians.
The celebration was told that her rare honesty and courage in sharing her own experiences and knowledge to teach others was a privilege to experience by all who knew her.
Those attending the celebration included the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes.
There were also representatives from the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice and the Commonwealth Ombudsman, along with high profile members of the disability rights movement, lawyers, and university professors.
Walker lived in institutions for people with intellectual disability for much of her earlier life before moving into the community. She then spent much of her life advocating for the closure of such institutions. She became involved in the self-advocacy movement, joining the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) soon after its inception in 1986, and becoming one of the first members of its Rights Forum. She wasemployed by IDRS as an Educator and continued in that job for nearly 20 years.
Walker was known for speaking up for people with disability on numerous advisory committees, boards and councils, including the Disability Council of NSW, the Disability Advisory Council of Australia, and the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability (CID). She was also a Life Member of PWD and the National Council on Intellectual Disability.
From 1992 to 1994, she represented Australia on a self-advocacy committee of Integration International, a committee which reported to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability. In this role, Walker travelled to five countries, and in 1994 presented a paper on achieving equal rights at the Integration International world conference in Delhi.
In 1998, she received the Rosemary Dybwad Award, an international self-advocacy honour presented every four years for excellence in support and development of human rights and social justice.
Some of her more recent work centred around the Shut In Campaign. This current national campaign aims to raise awareness of people with disability who still live in institutions, take action to close institutions, and to advocate for housing and other supports that enable people with disability to live in the community in way everyone else does.
As part of her support for this campaign, she was filmed in a Vodcast in which she talks about why people with disability must live in the community and not in institutions.
Walker’s recent work also involved advocacy for the introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, meeting with the Commissioner of the Productivity Commissioner as part of this work. She was most passionate about people with intellectual disability having the opportunity to ‘speak out’.
Want Pro Bono Australia News delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe now – it's free!