Sometimes you are lucky to come into the orbit of amazing people doing amazing things. The real privilege is when you get to observe, learn and share in their wisdom and their contributions.
I am just one person in a cast of thousands whose life have been enriched and nurtured by the work of Sue Salthouse – a long-time activist across the women’s and disability sectors.
I am part of a community deeply saddened by the news of her passing earlier this week.
However, sitting beside my grief is gratitude.
Many of us have been lucky to work with her over the years. This is because she was involved in so many issues. From disability access, gender equity, eliminating violence against women, to tertiary education and telecommunication advocacy. There are many more people – in Canberra, across Australia and globally – whose lives are better because of the work that Sue did throughout her life.
There are many things I admired about Sue.
She lived her values. She was passionate about accessibility, about equality, about fairness and nurturing potential. She shared her knowledge, built up other leaders and nurtured young people and their potential. She was generous with her insights and inclusive in her approach. She worked hard. She was a guiding light in many community organisations and networks.
The organisations she was involved in benefited from her deep knowledge of the sector, as well as her strong relationships and networks. In a time of great challenge in the community sector, she provided a steady hand, and supported organisations to operate strategically and sustainably.
Sue lived passionately and enthusiastically. She was always there at any important community meeting, in-depth consultation, event, or activity on issues that she cared about. She fought fiercely for people’s voices to be listened to and for people to be supported to live a good and included life. She spoke out when truth-telling was needed and celebrated when successes were achieved. She also knew how to have fun.
For decades, Sue has been a role model for many in Canberra. She has inspired us to contribute to the community and to try in a small way to do what she did on a daily basis – to make her community and the world better. She taught many of us to embrace what life gives but to fight for better, particularly for those who are impacted by intersectional discrimination.
I am so glad that Sue did achieve some recognition of the work that she did in recent years. She was named the Canberra Citizen of the Year in 2015 and was recognised as the 2020 ACT Senior Australian of the Year. These gave us a chance to congratulate and thank her for her ongoing contributions.
Thank you, Sue. You will continue to inspire and guide us.
Heartfelt condolences and love to Sue’s family and friends at this difficult time.