Annie's Last Paper Not Coming Out ~ the little lioness

Annie’s Last Paper Not Coming Out

From Live Toad

Annie’s Last Paper Not Coming Out

In a bizarre replay of Annie’s Coming Out (1980) the Department of Human Services is preventing Anne McDonald‘s oldest friend, Leonie McFarlane, from delivering a presentation in her memory.

Leonie’s case is to be taken to the Supreme Court today by Ron Meldrum, QC.

Anne McDonald and Leonie McFarlane were both admitted to St Nicholas Hospital as young children because they had severe cerebral palsy and couldn’t talk intelligibly. Anne left the hospital after winning a writ of Habeas Corpus in 1979, and went on to graduate from university and win a National Disability Award. Leonie remained in state care.

Early in 2010 Anne and Leonie developed a Powerpoint presentation comparing their lives in and out of state care. They planned to deliver the presentation together for the AGOSCI national conference on non-speech communication starting in Adelaide on 11 May – next Wednesday.

After Anne’s sudden death last October Leonie received a FaHCSIA-funded scholarship to attend the conference and deliver the presentation with the assistance of Anne’s carers – Rosemary Crossley and her partner Chris Borthwick.

All permissions were obtained and arrangements finalised with DHS on March 31. On April 21 DHS suddenly banned Leonie from attending the conference, and banned her from having any contact with Crossley and Borthwick. When questioned the Minister’s office said “there is no push at all from the department to stop this happening, rather the individual’s guardian has made the decision”.

On May 3 DHS admitted that Leonie, who is 48, does not have a guardian. Nonetheless the department and the Minister are continuing to pass the buck, with neither prepared to withdraw the bans.

Today Rosemary Crossley said “You cannot imagine how distressing this is, both for Leonie (who saw Anne as family) and for us. Anne fought for ordinary human rights for people with disabilities. It’s heartbreaking to discover that her struggle was in vain – that in 30 years the bureaucracy has learnt nothing about essential freedoms, and the right of all people to a life worth living.”

From what I have read online today, Leonie has now been prevented from further contact with Rosemary and Chris, and will not be allowed to present the paper in Adelaide, and it seems that those who have made the decision have deferred to the parents’ preferences. And from all accounts, Leonie is perfectly capable of making her own decisions should those with the power to listen choose to do so.

I don’t know all the facts, but I do believe that it is perfectly possible that the courts and DHS have chosen not to listen to Leonie as she does not talk.

Okay. Had to get that out there.

More on Anne at

Edit 10/05 7pm – the age have picked up the story.



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9 comments for “Annie’s Last Paper Not Coming Out

  1. May 9, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    This just doesn’t make sense. Who the hell is pulling the strings here, and what is god’s name do they think the danger of this presentation is? *cue steam from ears*

    • May 10, 2011 at 7:47 am

      Not sure, I’m not going to the conference, but a couple of workmates are, so I’ll get to find out the content.

      Maybe it’s that state care still isn’t all that crash hot, even though we’ve moved away from hospitals most of the time to group homes?

  2. May 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Do you think it’s because she doesn’t talk, or because they’re scared of what she is going to say?

    • May 10, 2011 at 7:18 am

      Certainly the second. The presentation will be done by Rosemary, but won’t have the same power

      • May 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm

        If the presentation is done by Rosemary Crossley, inevitably the story of Leonie and her fate will arise. Perhaps this may be a positive?
        It’s still appalling. Utterly appalling. (I’m trying not to swear)

        • May 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm

          Yes, it should be done by Rosemary.

        • May 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm

          A quote on the AGOSCI listserv from a repsonse to a letter to Minister Wooldridge (several members of AGOSCI and the listserv have emailed / contacted the minister re this case)

          “After discussions with Ms McFarlane’s parents, on the advice of VALID and considering all relevant information, my department decided not to intervene to overrule that decision.

          I understand and share your concerns regarding the rights of Ms McFarlane and believe that while this case is undoubtedly difficult, decisions have been made in her best interests.”

  3. May 10, 2011 at 7:46 am

    wow – who would have thought such ‘censorship’ or perhaps it is ‘fear’ is present in this day an age :(

    • May 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

      I think there’s also still a lot of misunderstanding of what people are capable of even from those who are supposed to support and advocate for them.

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