Dr Paul Brock AM, 2/11/1943 – 25/3/2016. We remember Dr Paul Brock AM, one of Australia’s leading disability advocates and Every Australian Counts Ambassador.
Dr Brock lived with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) for 20 years, continuing to work for the NSW Education Department and Sydney University while almost totally paralysed.
His courage in battling MND made him a national figure, advocating for research into its causes and cures.
He was a leader in education, being voted one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s five most important people in NSW education in 2009
He was also a passionate campaigner for the NDIS, arguing it will transform the lives not only of people with disability, but their families and their carers – and make Australia a better place.
Dr Brock said the NDIS was particularly important for people who are born with a condition or acquire it, who unlike people who are left with a disability after an accident, can sue to ensure they can afford the supports they need.
“The beauty and the magic of the NDIS is that that distinction evaporates,” he said in support for the for the Every Australian Counts campaign.
Dr Brock was given 5 years to live when his MND was diagnosed in 1996. He survived for 20.
In that time he continued working, found solutions, and relied on the support of aides and personal staff – acknowledging that without them his life in the community would not be possible.
He saw a world where the NDIS opened those doors to others with disability, whatever their goals.
He told the National Press Club in December 2011 the NDIS would provide a boost national morale, appealing to the Australian spirit of a fair go.
And he was optimistic it would happen in his lifetime, with the continued work of Every Australian Counts supporters, the generosity of spirit of the Australian community and political leadership.
“This is a movement that’s grassroots. It’s come from marvellous advocacy by people representing people with disability and people with disability themselves.
“We have to ensure that yes it counts, that it doesn’t all trickle into yesterday.”
Friend and former NSW Education Minister Rodney Cavalier said
“His final twenty years were years of misery yet Paul was never miserable. His life was restricted but he travelled and worked on projects important to him. Everything stood in the way of creative expression, Paul continued to write poems and enjoy the music his family created. He stayed on top of current affairs, read widely, asked questions.
After so many successes and so much promising, Paul’s future was stolen from him. Paul stole his future right back.
Paul is now released from earthly handicaps. He deserves the rest that is his.”
Dr Paul Brock’s goal of an NDIS in his lifetime was realised. It is because of legacies like his that we continue to campaign for the NDIS to be truly national and fully funded, so the future of all Australians with disability is theirs.