Vale: Sue Salthouse – a great Canberra leader with a disability


The Board and staff of the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) express our deep shock and sadness at the tragic passing of Sue Salthouse.

Sue Salthouse made an extraordinary contribution to the whole Canberra community. Sue was an important national and Canberra disability activist, the long-term Chairperson of Women with Disabilities ACT, the 2015 Canberra Citizen of the Year and the 2020 ACT Senior Australian of the Year.

Sue worked with ACTCOSS and numerous Canberra organisations and was a leader in making positive change for people with disability over many decades. ACTCOSS expresses its sincere condolences to her family and friends and our colleagues at Women with Disabilities ACT who have lost a remarkable leader. The whole community sector will miss her intelligence, determination and strength. However, the impact of her advocacy will remain.

Comments attributable to ACTCOSS:

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said:'


"Sue’s life was one of service. Last year she worked closely with ACTCOSS to lead the development of our Strategic Plan. She was passionate about giving a voice to vulnerable people especially women, including informing the women’s sector on the experiences of violence against women with disability. Her most recent work as an Official Visitor made sure that people living in closed settings were being adequately protected and cared for. She was tireless in her advocacy and work to achieve better outcomes for those facing disadvantage."

ACTCOSS Policy Manager, Craig Wallace, said:

"I’ve known and worked with Sue for 25 years. She was determined, defiant and held true to her principles, but was also able to bring people together. She was a generous leader who said ‘yes’ to innumerable projects – and they were all better because she was in them.  "Sue made a huge difference in areas spanning gendered violence, adaptable housing and in her stewardship of the Disability Reform Group that guided community input during the ACT’s transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. She had a knack for getting into the data and detail, but then for summing up different viewpoints and reaching practical decisions. She also did a lot of work out of the spotlight – growing and mentoring disabled women. Like many today, I find it hard to imagine Canberra without Sue Salthouse in it."

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

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