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Awarded for service to Human Rights
Entered on roll: 2006
The effectiveness of her efforts is evident in the fact that the organisations she has helped establish, such as Women with Disabilities Australia, have become significant voices for the rights of the people they represent. (Jan Miller, Jenny Stanzel, Marie Kennedy 2006)
Robin Wilkinson was born in Sydney with severe physical disabilities. She has overcome those difficulties to become an advocate for social justice for the human rights of Tasmanians with disabilities.
She cites the two most influential people in her life as her father and stepmother. Born before Thalidomide, the extent of her physical disabilities was a challenge not often experienced by the medical profession. Robin has spoken of how her father accepted that his daughter was born without the usual two legs, two arms and straight back and his insistence that she be brought up a ‘normal child’.
Robin moved to Tasmania with her family when she was eight years old and was educated at The Friends’ School. After leaving school, she joined the State Public Service as a junior typist. An ardent theatre-goer, Robin helped establish a junior drama group and loved it. The love of performing led into a job as an ABC radio announcer. She was with the ABC from 1963-69.
Robin travelled overseas and began her studies in social work at the Quaker College ‘Woodbrooke’ in Birmingham, UK. She returned to Australia and completed her studies in welfare and social work and has since worked in a variety of roles.
From the 1970s onwards, Robin has worked to foster the rights of Tasmanians with disabilities as an integral part of Tasmanian society. She was founder of the organisation Tasmanians with Disabilities Inc. and was its President for many years. She has also been a Tasmanian delegate to a variety of national councils, including the Disability Advisory Council of Australia and the National Council of Disabled Peoples’ International (Australia).
Robin was a founding member, and is currently the Chair, of the Consumer’s Telecommunications Network (CTN) Inc. In 2005 (France) and 2006 (Chicago), Robin was a part of the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) delegation from Australia to the Global Standards Collaboration meeting. The promotion of the rights of people with disabilities in the area of communications has led to international recognition of the work of the CTN.
Robin’s appointments and contributions to various committees over the years have been extensive. Her work in human rights has touched many people and this has been recognised by her being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994 and being named Hobart Citizen of the Year in 2005. She is now considered an Elder with the Aging and Disability Community, a distinction she has embraced with her usual enthusiasm.