A new podcast series, CRUcial Conversations, will feature five stories of grassroots leadership and change in the disability sector, highlighting leaders who have created incredible impact in the public domain.

They are Queenslanders who have created a more inclusive society for people with disabilities. In the process, they have improved countless lives and have shown what is possible for people with disability to help them live rich and meaningful lives.

Several of the protagonists have links to Griffith University. The stories feature:

– Josey McMahon — Josey and her twin sister Cathy were born with a disability. Cathy was sent to an institution at the age of 11. This is the story of how Josey reunited with Cathy and learned how to effectively advocate to get her out of that institution after 47 years.

– Margaret and Jeremy Ward — Dr Margaret Ward is a former Griffith academic and an expert in accessible architecture. She and husband Jeremy founded several organisations and were pioneers in their advocacy for their daughter Mena’s right to an ordinary life of study, home and work.

– Anne Cross — Anne is a social worker, founding Director of CRU and the recently retired CEO of Uniting Care Queensland. Anne explores how learning from people with disability and their families shaped the values that defined and guided actions across her many roles.

– Kevin Cocks AM — Kevin is the former Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. He’s also Patron of The Hopkins Centre, based at Griffith University. He famously took the Queensland Government to court to stop construction of the Brisbane Convention Centre so that it was made accessible for people with a disability.

– Leanne Burke — Leanne has been active in the disability sector for more than 30 years. She has taken inspiration from her late sister Maria as she has served the community during her lengthy career in the disability sector.

In the final episode, Professor Emeritus Griffith University Lesley Chenoweth, Karin Swift and Griffith’s Journalist in Residence, Nance Haxton, unpack the stories told over the previous weeks.

How ‘accidental activists’ are made

Hugh Rose-Miller, one of the producers of CRUcial Conversations, is the Information Consultant at Community Resource Unit Ltd. (CRU) and a graduate of Griffith University’s School of Human Services and Social Work.

“The main message is that there are many different types of leaders out there. Everyone has a role to play. It comes down to the decisions people make, their priorities and where they choose to focus their efforts,” he said.

“Many of the people in this series are what we would call ‘accidental activists’. They found themselves in situations where they realised, ‘If I don’t do this, who will?’ They realised that change had to happen, and it was up to them to make it happen.”

CRU is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to create and promote positive change so that people with disabilities can belong to and participate in community life.

Matt Stone, a CRU board member, hosts the series, and the introductory episode features CEO Margaret Rodgers. It is available now on platforms including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

A new episode of the series will be released each week.