House debates

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Statements by Members

Jackson, Ms Leonie

1:30 pm

Photo of Julie OwensJulie Owens (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On the night of Saturday 16 January, Leonie Jackson celebrated her 50th birthday with her family. The next day, on Sunday 17 January, Leonie drowned while saving her son from a rip at Congo Beach. A family lost a mother, a friend, an advocate and a person who her sons say would move mountains for them, and Australia lost one of its genuine leaders, a person who really made a difference. She was a pioneer from the very beginning of her career, helping establish Australia's first bilingual program for deaf children aged two to five, and her work went on, selflessly, for another 25 years. She was generous and never passive, she believed in opportunity for all, and she worked to improve the capacity of the deaf community collectively and individually.

When I met Leonie, she was the CEO of the Deaf Society. She was the organisation's first deaf CEO in its 100-year history, and she made us all wonder why it took so long. It was so obvious. She was an amazing advocate. She was the one of the strongest and most effective advocates for Australia's deaf community in recent history.

Last year's landmark merger between Deaf Services and Deaf Society was largely due to Leonie's ability to merge strategic vision and practicality and her unwavering optimism for the future of the deaf community. She is missed deeply. Leonie Jackson, this woman who broke down barriers, built community capacity and supported deaf people to realise their dreams. Rest in peace, Leonie.