​Leonie Walker (McCormick)

1962 Collegian


After leaving school I worked for the Shell Company of Australia for six years. When I left to get married I was officer in charge of Data Processing.

I married a farmer in 1966. We were family friends with two other people who went to MLC, Barbara and Judy Walker. We'd been friends for about three generations. I went to Judy's 21st and met my husband, Doug, there.

I went to live on the farm, east of Wongan Hills. I became a part of every sport and community activity while living there. I had two sons, both with intellectual disabilities.

There wasn't any help up on the farm, we didn't even have a clinic sister when the boys were born and they weren't diagnosed with having problems until they were two-years-old or thereabouts.

I became involved with disability services because when my eldest was six, he needed to go to Perth to go to a special school. When he was eight, they wanted him to live in a hostel and that was run by the Slow Learning Children's Group, which is now Activ Foundation. We had to be members to get any services at that stage.

There wasn't a branch in Wongan Hills so we became supporters of the various hostels and schools that the kids went to. When we shifted down to Dunsborough, I discovered there was a branch in Busselton to which I immediately went along and started working in. I became secretary and president. Then I was the representative for Busselton on the Regional Council and became secretary there for some time and president.

In 1992 the Disability Services Act came in and the Disability Services Commission was created. I did six years on the commission and then I had six months off before I was asked to go on the Ministerial Advisory Council for Disability. I did a couple of years on that before I thought "this is a waste of time, no-one's listening". I became an honorary life member of the Activ Foundation in 2001, a trustee in 2004, and was elected to the board in 2005.

I think my greatest achievement was waking the people up in the city to the fact that it costs more to provide a service in the country and that it's harder to get that service as there aren't the people to provide it.