Remembering Kim Walker, advocate and friend

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Kim Walker (formerly Carol Pein)

Kim Walker

It is with great sadness that IDRS shares the news that Kim Walker passed away on Boxing Day 2011, after a short illness.

Kim has been a long-time employee and friend of IDRS and an exceptional advocate for people with intellectual disability.

She became involved with IDRS soon after it started in 1986 as a member of the first Rights Forum. Her great insight, concern for others, courage and communication talents made her a natural born teacher and advocate. IDRS was fortunate to be able to employ Kim as a part-time educator and she has been a major influence on the culture of our service.

Kim has had tremendous impact on the many people that she has taught and worked with over the years – people with disability, disability workers, employers, police, support workers, volunteers, lawyers, domestic violence workers and even government ministers and politicians.

Kim’s rare honesty and courage in sharing her own experiences and knowledge to teach others have been a privilege to experience.

One of Kim’s passions was to get everyone to communicate in ways that could be understood by everyone, whatever their ability or disability. She has been the expert that so many people and organisations turned to over the years for help to get their own messages into plain language.

Kim set high standards and she probably would not approve of some of the bigger words in this writing!

Kim spoke up for people with disability on the numerous advisory committees and councils she was invited to join including the Disability Council of NSW.

She could make people, especially those in power, feel committed and enthusiastic but she could also make people feel appropriately uncomfortable at the unhappy truths she could expose.

Although she was sometimes discouraged by the slowness of change for people with disability and by the many promises and plans that in the end did not deliver what they promised for people with intellectual disability, Kim herself certainly achieved enlightenment and change for so many.

When Kim decided in 2007 that she needed a change and would look for new challenges, she had been working at IDRS for over 17 years. She is, by far, the longest serving staff member of IDRS.

Happily, in the past two years she had come back to some education work with IDRS. Kim has also been a long time star board member of NSW Council for Intellectual Disability and and recently made a vodcast with People with Disability (PWD) for the Shut In Campaign about another of her passions - why people with disability should live in the community and should not live in institutions.

Kim will also be remembered for her mischievous sense of humor, her laughter and the pleasure she had in teasing her work mates and friends.

She has remained very close to many current and former IDRS staff.

NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, PWD and IDRS are combining to organize an event in early February so that Kim’s many friends and admirers can gather in Sydney to celebrate her life. Information will be widely circulated and posted on this website. Her funeral is in Mullumbimby, where she lived in recent months to be near her close friend Faye Druitt.

We have lost a wonderful and unique friend and colleague.

Article about Kim Walker on Sydney Morning Herald by Jim Simpson

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