Congratulations are in order
We are so proud to announce that CID members Fiona McKenzie and Michael Sullivan have both been named as Members of the Order of Australia today.
Being named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) is a huge honour. It is given to people for outstanding achievement and service.
Fiona says, “It encapsulates everything, it’s an absolute honour to be recognised with an AM because it shows having intellectual disability you can achieve anything.”
Fiona and Michael have used their voices and skills to fight for an inclusive society. And they have made a path for other people with intellectual disability to create change.
Michael says, “We need to challenge ourselves to be the best we can be. To challenge ourselves not to be ok with being treated as second best. We have to challenge people in our communities to see what we can do and what we are capable of doing. When we do that we are challenging society.”
Fiona is CID’s current Chairperson. Fiona has taken a very active role in CID’s advocacy work over many years.
Fiona says, “I do what I do, because it’s what I’m meant to be doing, I am meant to be an advocate. It’s hard to describe. Even before I started with CID, I think I was advocating before I realised it. It’s in my blood. It’s important to stand up for what’s right.”
Fiona is a powerful public speaker. She has talked to audiences about many important issues like supporting people with intellectual disability take leadership roles in organisations and in public debate.
Fiona has talked with politicians, policy makers and health professionals about health inequality.
She has helped the Black Dog Institute to develop the Healthy Mind website to help people with intellectual disability learn and talk about mental health issues.
Fiona was a leader in CID’s Don’t Silence Us campaign for advocacy funding for people with intellectual disability in NSW.
Fiona fits all this voluntary work in her busy life working in retail, spending time with her family and her love of fitness. Fiona has completed many City to Surfs, the 14km run from central Sydney to Bondi Beach.
Michael Sullivan has been a national leader in self-advocacy for the last 20 years. He has given his time to share his experiences and advocate for changes to government policy.
He has shared his views with government agencies, politicians and academics. He has helped community understanding of Down syndrome and intellectual disability.
Michael has helped other people with intellectual disability to become leaders. His advice is, “Have fun, work with friends and be in touch with everyone, it’s just as important as the advocacy.”
Michael’s work has included speaking up for a Disability Royal Commission, mental health support for people with intellectual disability, funding for advocacy, healthy ageing and tackling bullying.
He has been on Government committees and advisory groups. He has had leadership positions with Down Syndrome Australia and CID, serving as a CID Board member and Chairperson over many years.
Michael says, “Every person with an intellectual disability is an individual with a name and a life. We are not just a collection of behaviours or a syndrome full of symptoms. But people with intellectual disabilities are very often treated as if we are nobodies. As if we are invisible.”
Michael instead challenges society to do better, saying “I want you to ask yourself, ‘What could I do, to reach out? What can I do, fix or change, to help someone get the good life they deserve.’ “
Congratulations Fiona McKenzie AM and Michael Sullivan AM. Thank you for your skills, knowledge, passion and the incredible impact you have made.