8 September 2022

Sue Salthouse Leadership Fund makes space at the table for people with disability

| Dione David
Start the conversation
Sue Salthouse with the senior Australian of the year award

Disability activist Sue Salthouse was named Senior Australian of the Year in 2020. Photo: Supplied.

Just over two years since the loss of beloved Canberra disability advocate Sue Salthouse, a fund has been launched in her name to enhance the representation of people with disability in leadership.

Administered by Hands Across Canberra (HAC), the Sue Salthouse Leadership Fund will allow people with a disability in the ACT and region to access skills and experience-building opportunities to ultimately amplify their voices at a leadership level.

With an initial grant of $75,000 from the ACT Government, $10,000 annually will be available for at least the next three years to support development opportunities for the Territory’s people with disability, including attending conferences, university, mentoring, skill-building courses and activating ideas that change lives.

There could be no more fitting way to honour Sue’s legacy and recognise her hard work championing inclusion, according to her daughter Luisa Fearnside.

READ ALSO Sue Salthouse ‘wasn’t done making the world a better place’: family speaks on loss of ‘fierce advocate’

“For a long time all I saw were the hours of work mum was doing; she would always be taking on the next thing. I would joke with her that she was allowed to say ‘no’ sometimes,” Luisa said.

“Her passing was a real eye-opener as to why she worked so hard and always defaulted to ‘yes’. She knew there was much to be done to help people with disability live up to their full potential.”

Luisa said Sue’s lived experiences revealed a disconnect between reality and the public’s perceptions of the capabilities of people with disability.

“My mum was previously quite a tall and athletic woman who could stand eye to eye with anyone in the room. When she became a wheelchair user, all of a sudden she was lower down and found she was easily ignored and wasn’t asked the same level of intellectual questions,” she said.

“Mum believed in the capability of all people to do whatever they set their minds to, and this fund is one way of removing barriers for folks with disability to take opportunities that might otherwise be out of scope for them.”

Disability advocate Sue Salthouse in a wheelchair reading

Sue Salthouse Leadership Fund will help increase representation of people with disability in leadership positions. Photo: Supplied.

HAC will work with an advisory group comprising Sue’s family and representatives from Women with Disabilities ACT, Advocacy for Inclusion and the Community Services Directorate to administer the fund.

Applications will be assessed for achievability (realistic project budget), meaningful indicators of success, benefit to the individual and community and adherence to the fund’s purpose.

READ ALSO Thank you, Sue Salthouse

“Mum would be champing at the bit for people to apply – no matter how big or small or hairy you think your goal might be,” Luisa said.

“We hope this fund will be around for many years as an extra tool to remove barriers to getting people into the room, to have a voice.”

Luisa stressed that potential applicants should not be bogged down by preconceived notions about leaders.

“Leadership comes in many different forms and mum was very cognisant of this,” she said.

Disability advocate Sue Salthouse
Sue was posthumously honoured with an AM in the Australia Day honours list. The Sue Salthouse Leadership Fund will help carry on her legacy. Photo: Brad Hunter.

ACT Minister for Disability Emma Davidson said she had experienced first hand how keen Sue was to “build up the skills of more people to do this kind of advocacy in the community”.

“She wanted to see people with disability at the decision tables and not just for NDIS matters but about the transport system, climate change, employment,” Ms Davidson said. “She did a lot of work to support people to have the skills and confidence to be able to do that.

“This grant will make a huge difference in providing people the support they need to build those skills, so we can see them represented at every decision-making table in the community.”

READ ALSO Farewell to Sue Salthouse, a tireless warrior for our community

Applications for the Sue Salthouse Leadership Fund are now open with several accessible application options.

Contact Carla Millner from Advocacy for Inclusion info@advocacyforinclusion.org to help with your application.

Applicants can apply by filling out this application form or by making a short video of themselves responding to the selection criteria and sending it to Krishna.shukla@handsacrosscanberra.org.au

Or email Krishna.shukla@handsacrosscanberra.org.au to discuss an application method that suits you.

Canberrans can donate to the fund to ensure an ongoing grant pool.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.