Tributes flow for disability advocate Sue Salthouse after motorcycle crash

Vale Sue Salthouse, the disability advocate was ACT Senior Australian of 2020. Picture: Jamila Toderas
Vale Sue Salthouse, the disability advocate was ACT Senior Australian of 2020. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Disability advocate Sue Salthouse has been remembered for her passion and generosity after she died on Monday night.

Ms Salthouse was riding a wheelchair accessible motorcycle on Commonwealth Avenue bridge when it was involved in an incident with a car on Monday afternoon.

Ms Salthouse was prominent in the Canberra community as a passionate advocate for women with disabilities and was the 2020 ACT Senior Australian of the Year.

Her service to the community for almost three decades has been tireless and multi-faceted. She worked for Lifeline and ran her own consultancy company.

Ms Salthouse also sat as the board chair for Women with Disabilities ACT and advocated for the prevention of violence against women as an ambassador of Our Watch.

Fellow disability advocate Christina Ryan reflected on 25 years working with Ms Salthouse to bring about change for people with disabilities.

"She was a passionate part of our community, she was really a big part of the disability sisterhood," Ms Ryan told ABC Radio Canberra.

Ms Salthouse was an "outstanding" mentor of young people, Ms Ryan said.

"One of the biggest differences Sue made was leading enormous numbers of young folk to continue her work."

Police investigate the crash on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge on Monday.

Police investigate the crash on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge on Monday.

Sustainability advocate and 2020 ACT Young Australian of the Year Maddie Diamond was one of the many young people for whom Ms Salthouse was a mentor and role model.

"It's not just the loss of a friend, it's a loss to the community," she said.

"She is a really important person to have around, her contribution to the community has been so significant.

"Often young activists feel like we're on our own, to have those older people who are ready to support you without being patronising ... to come at you with an open heart and generosity is really awesome."

After a horse-riding accident at 45, Ms Salthouse experienced the inequalities faced by people with disabilities and became one of the most notable voices in the sector.

Ms Ryan said Ms Salthouse's fight was far from over.

"We're still struggling," she said. "Women with disabilities are still dying and we've had that again in the news today.

"It keeps us going, it means we have to keep this work going. We're not anywhere close to equality and we've got a long way to go."

As a prominent figure in the disability sector and Canberra's political landscape, Ms Salthouse was co-chair of the ACT Expert Panel and helped bring about the NDIS locally.

She also sat on the Council of Australian Governments Summit on Reducing Violence Against Women and their Children and was a member of the Independent Advisory Council to the NDIA board.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he was shocked by the loss of a woman whose life had been spent contributing to the community.

"She worked for greater recognition of the enormous contribution women with disability make to the workplace and in leadership roles," he said.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it was a loss that would be felt across the country.

Activist and author Carly Findlay paid tribute to Ms Salthouse as someone she had admired for years.

"Sue was a true leader - one who changed the world with her work and wisdom, and who nurtured others," she wrote.

"She will be so very missed Sending my love and condolences to Sue's family, friends and colleagues."

This story Sue Salthouse, ACT senior Australian of the year, disability advocate has died first appeared on The Canberra Times.