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I Want to Shout from the Rooftops – Stella Young has Died


Thursday, 11th December 2014 at 9:51 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist
Regular contributor on disability issues Tricia Malowney writes she was as stunned as everyone when cricketer Phil Hughes died. But now she says she wants to shout from the rooftops: “STELLA YOUNG HAS DIED”.

Thursday, 11th December 2014
at 9:51 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist


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I Want to Shout from the Rooftops – Stella Young has Died
Thursday, 11th December 2014 at 9:51 am

Regular contributor on disability issues Tricia  Malowney writes she was as stunned as everyone when cricketer Phil Hughes died. But now she says she wants to shout from the rooftops: “STELLA YOUNG HAS DIED”.

Time for me to make some enemies? Those who know me, know that sport is just something that is not on my agenda at all.  I flick over the sports pages and change channels if sport comes on the TV, unless it involves people I know, love or support.  I respect people who play sport, and will say well done when they achieve something.

But really enough is enough. There is more to life than sport and we have to acknowledge people who have had great achievements in other fields of endeavour.

On the day that I heard that my much loved colleague Stella Young had died, I looked at many news bulletins seeking acknowledgement of her great contribution to Australia, as a woman, as a feminist, and a social commentator.

What did I see?  A footballer had urinated on a police car, interviews with cricketers and spectators about the tragic death of Phil Hughes, the ASADA investigation into doping in football.

I was as stunned as everyone when Phil Hughes died and I felt for his friends and family and for the person who bowled the ball that hit him.  But he played cricket. I want to shout from the rooftops. STELLA YOUNG HAS DIED

Stella was legendary, not only for her work in normalising Australians with disabilities, and showing that others assumptions about us are just ludicrous, but also for her work in broadcasting, and in journalism, and in comedy, violence prevention and in feminism and in having fun and in just being outrageous and doing what she wanted to do.

STELLA YOUNG HAS DIED

My contacts with Stella ranged from the serious to the hilarious   –

·         Stella always responded to my Hey Stell, with Hello Lovely – creating a connection of real joy

·         We shared a love of stand up.  Stella’s advocacy led to stand up, my stand up led to being sidetracked into advocacy

·         Stella’s intellect at 32 was so much sharper than mine at 60, how I envied her life with young women of intelligence and influence

·         Stella with her red with white polka dot shoes, me with my sturdy orthopaedic shoes created serious shoe envy.

·         Stella with her beautifully groomed self, me with my just got out of bed look, made me consider dying my hair – I wasn’t confident enough to go orange or purple – but this year I am blonde.

·         Our passionate discussions on the use of language – our total disagreement on the issue but mutual respect for the others point of view – apparently people with disabilities don’t agree on everything – shock horror

·         Our mutual determination that there be an end to the abuse of Australians with disabilities, wherever they are, at home, in the workplace, in the street, in “day” programs, in supported accommodation

·         Our mutual determination to end segregation of Australians with disabilities – in housing, employment and education

·         Our mutual determination declare ourselves to be proud of who we are, and not see our disabilities as a source of shame

·         Our mutual gratitude for parents who didn’t see us as different to their other children, but who ensured that we had the tools to get out and do things, that we wanted to do.

·         Stella’s talent as a knitter of distinction, my total ‘clutziness’.

Last year, Chopper Read, a crook, died and stole the headlines when I wanted to shout

LESLEY HALL HAS DIED

This year sport has taken the spotlight off my friend.

STELLA YOUNG HAS DIED

I wish I believed in a God, so I could say Lesley and Stella are sharing a wine and planning their next campaign, but I don’t.

What do we do now?  Well I’ve spent the last year saying, what would Lesley do, now I have to say what would Lesley and Stella do?

So the first thing we need to do is get back to work – we need a national inquiry into violence against Australians with disabilities, regardless of where it occurs.  We need to ensure an end to segregation, and we need to ensure that we have equal access to citizenship rights.

I hope I can live up the standards of these women, I am older than both of them when they died, and I haven’t achieved half of what they have.  They both had brilliant minds, and used their skills for the betterment of others.  They just didn’t play sport.

About the author: Tricia Malowney is systemic advocate for inclusive practices and regular contributor to Pro Bono Australia News. She is a former President of the Victorian Disability Services Board. In November 2013, Malowney was awarded the inaugural Brenda Gabe Leadership Award for her outstanding contribution to women with disabilities in Victoria. She was the inaugural Chair of the Royal Women’s Hospital Disability Reference Group and was able to influence policy and planning on key issues including the Family Violence Protection Act 2006. She has successfully lobbied for women with disabilities to be included in the United Nations Population Health Research.


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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