Vale Mary Guy

Date posted: 
3 February 2010

It is with sadness that I am advising you that Nican's long serving Chairperson, Mary Guy passed away on the 2nd February. Mary will be sadly missed by the Board and Staff at Nican.

A few words about Mary:

Reasonable people maintain the status quo. It is only those who dare to question what is really acceptable and then consistently demonstrate through their passion, enthusiasm and commitment that change must happen to make our society better that change does actually occur. I would describe Mary Guy as the latter.

Through not accepting a society that places barriers to participation in life Mary Guy was instrumental in effecting change in the thoughts and perceptions of all who came in contact with her.

Mary was an artist, a politician, a leader, a business owner and a beautiful woman who inspired others by speaking up, by leading by example and by sticking to principles.

She had the ability to challenge you whilst at the same time provide a mentoring figure. Mary brought many assets to the Nican Board. Mary's experience and leadership style allowed each member of the NICAN Board to contribute using their strengths and abilities whilst at the same time giving them the opportunity to grow as individuals and board members.

Mary Guy held the position of Nican Chairperson since August 2000. Prior to her appointment of Chairperson, Mary had been the Tasmanian Representative since around 1992. During this time Mary was instrumental in many issues and events. Including but not limited to:

  • re-writing the constitution
  • conduct of 5 national conferences
  • representing Nican at various conferences including as a key note speaker
  • ascertaining additional grant funding for projects such as the International Day of People with a DisAbility and the Nican National Photographic Competition
  • writing and adoption of a Board Members Code of Conduct and Grievance Policy
  • planning and conduct of International Day of People with a DisAbility events in the state of Tasmania
  • organisation of state based disability education workshops
  • building the profile of Nican in Australia (particularly Tasmania) and promoting the work that Nican does.

Whilst the above may sound typical of the requirement of any board it is the subject matter that Nican deals with on a daily basis that differs - Nican's vision is to support an Australian society where any recreational opportunity values diversity, supports freedom and choice and strengthens inclusive communities. The hard work Mary did through Nican was about chipping away at the barriers to participation in life that people with a disability are so often not afforded. Needless barriers created often by people who don't think, understand or care about building a society where everyone is valued for what that can contribute rather than what they can not.

Mary was always very accessible as the organisations leader even though her position was voluntary. Her astute awareness of disability issues ensured the organisation was kept up to date with relevant knowledge and was able to tap into relevant resources when required. Her experience of disability gave her insight and appreciation of the needs and wants of individuals who access our information service. Her life experience was that of barriers and the subsequent fight to break these barriers down.

The clarity in which she guided Nican was that of driven purpose and achievable ends. It is for this alone that one could argue that her service to Nican and people with a disability should be considered outstanding. But as history will demonstrate, Mary Guy will be remembered for much more than this - she is an inspiration, a courageous fighter for the rights of humans, she chipped away at barriers both physical and intellectual, she demonstrated what can be achieved.

Mary Guy's fight for human rights did not stop with her involvement with Nican. In fact from my knowledge of her activities Nican was but a small component of the extensive work Mary was involved with.

The driving force behind Mary's ongoing commitment was the creation of a society that supports all citizens to become active, participating members of their communities - to be enabled to live in the way of their choice.

Mary once said 'Disability being a natural part of life is common to every community. Communities built around the needs of people with disabilities are essentially inclusive and tend to get it right for everyone; young, old and people from different cultural backgrounds. It's about seeing people with disabilities in a holistic way as opposed to the current model where disability services and resources are fractured into separate demarked and often competing departments and agencies.'

Mary keenly recognised that whilst much change had occurred in the last three decades there is still a considerable gap to fill in creating a fully inclusive society that caters, accepts and values the needs and assets of every member. Mary never stopped pressing the buttons of decision makers, educating the ignorant, learning from the knowledgeable and sharing with humanity.

Heaven certainly gained an angel this morning.

Funeral Arrangements:
Mass of Christian Burial for Mary Guy will be offered at St Johns Catholic Church, Bowden St, Glenorchy on Friday (February 5, 2010) commencing at 2 pm. Following the mass, interment will take place at the Cornelian Bay Cemetery at approx. 3.30 pm. Friends are respectfully invited to attend.