L’Arche member Anne Walsh was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to people with an intellectual disability.

As a woman who lives with the experience of intellectual disability herself, Anne’s award is a rare achievement and recognition. 

Ms Walsh OAM, a former Paralympian, is a long-time member of L’Arche Genesaret in Canberrawho joined in 1982 at the age of 18 years after growing up on her family’s property in Gurrundah near Goulburn, NSW. 

“This is a great honour. I was very surprised when I was told. I feel very proud and very grateful to the people who nominated me,” Ms Walsh OAM said. 

“I’d like to thank my family and everyone at L’Arche for all their support and encouragement over so many years.”  

L’Arche Genesaret Community Leader Brendan Price affirmed Anne Walsh as an outstanding ambassador who exemplifies the L’Arche mission in “making known the gifts of people with an intellectual disability”.  

“Anne is recognised within L’Arche, here in Canberra and around Australia, as one of our founding leaders and has been a quiet but confident advocate for others living with the experience of intellectual disability,” Mr Price said.  

“Anne has helped educate countless Assistants who have worked with L’Arche over the years and has mentored younger residents with a disability,” he said. 

“Anne is very open and courageous about her own disability and how she has continually overcome anxiety throughout her life, and encourages others to do the same.” 

Among her many achievements, Anne is most proud of receiving the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Award in 2017 and competing in athletics in the Paralympics in Madrid in 1992. She has also excelled in ten-pin bowling and basketball. 

In 1989, aged 25, Anne was part of the Australian team for the first World Championships for the Intellectually Disabled in Sweden. Anne completed in the athletics (running) and came home with a Silver Medal for the 1500m event. Anne went on to compete in the Paralympics in Madrid in 1992 and ran fourth in the world for the 1500m event.  

In 2011, Anne was nominated by her L’Arche peers to represent Canberra on the National Listening and Speaking Group, a sub-committee of the National Board of L’Arche, to advocate for members with an intellectual disability. Anne flowered in this leadership role and served as a founding member until 2017 when her term was fulfilled. Anne continues to mentor the current National Listening and Speaking Group representatives and provide encouragement and moral support. 

In 2014, Anne was selected to represent Australia at the L’Arche International Jubilee Celebrations in France. In the past five years, Anne has served as a Core Member Observer at the monthly meetings of the Canberra L’Arche Board of Directors and has represented L’Arche at several public speaking engagements in Canberra. 

Until last year, Anne worked in open employment with Calvary John James Private Hospital in Deakin as a dietary maid delivering meals to patients. Anne’s gentle and caring qualities, along with her conscientious work ethic, was recognised with several staff awards over more than 20 years of dedicated service. 

 

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