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Vale Lesley Hall (1954 – 2013)

Date: 22 October 2013

Lesley Hall was a staunch advocate for people with disabilities, nationally and abroad, and an early leader in the Australian Disability Rights Movement. She passed away on October 19, 2013, The following tribute, written by her brother Frank Bentick-Hall, provides an account of her human rights activism.

Vale Lesley Hall 27 November 1954 – 19 October 2013

It is with great sorrow and grief that I write to inform you that my sister Lesley Hall passed away this afternoon in the Austin Hospital, Heidelberg here in Melbourne following a suspected heart attack very late Thursday night 17 October 2013.

Lesley was a feminist and disability advocate with a life-long disability and has been involved with feminist issues since the 1972 and since that time has worked in various jobs empowering low income, indigenous and people with disabilities in housing, accommodation, arts, human rights and disability rights.

Lesley trained and worked as a teacher and has worked in the Australian Public Service and a number of Community Organisations including the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS), the Collective of Self Help Groups and Melbourne Workers Theatre. In 1981 she help found the Disability Resources Centre and the Women with Disabilities Feminist Collective, she has worked for a number of disability advocacy organisations, including the Disability Resource Centre (DRC), Reinforce, Action for Community Living (ACL) and as a Project Officer with the Disability Section of the UN ESCAP in Bangkok.

In 1985 Lesley was employed by the Disability Resources Centre to investigate and report to the Australian Human Rights Commission on the Rights of Residents in Victorian Institutions. Her report ‘Free from this Place’ was presented to the AHRC in May 1985.

Lesley has attended numerous International Disability Conferences in Bahamas, Korea, Fiji, South Africa, India, Vanuatu, Geneva and Bangkok.

She has been a board member of DRC, ACL and Victorian Women with Disabilities Network and previously worked as an Arts & Cultural Development Officer at the City of Darebin where she promoted the inclusion of people with disabilities in all their artistic opportunities. She was a member of the Art of Difference 2009 Steering Committee and on the Board of Arts Access. She previously served on the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) disability advisory committee and the Victorian Disability Advisory Council (VDAC). She also represented VDAC on the Department of Human Services Industry Advisory Group.

In September 2008 she was employed as the CEO for the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations where she brought her experience, skills and long commitment to human rights for women, people with disabilities and indigenous people to the national and international work of AFDO.

Since joining AFDO Lesley has dramatically increase the policy involvement of People with Disabilities in Australian and International Disability issues. Her high level of policy development, organisational skills and ability to empower her team of staff, volunteers and Board members has lifted AFDO’s profile to it’s highest level ever as the peak organisation of people with disabilities. On behalf of AFDO she has represented and involved people with disabilities in the consultation, lobbying and campaign to achieve the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) with fantastic success.

Lesley was a truly exceptional woman.


  1. Liz Ross says:

    Such sad news. Lesley was a wonderful activist and an inspiration to all around her. Our best tribute is to keep up the fight for everything she believed in!

    Vale Lesley!

  2. admin says:

    Agreed Liz. I met Lesley when a colleague and I were commissioned to write a short history of Women with Disabilities Victoria in 2010. Her passion and energy were extraordinary and I was embarrassed that a did not know anything about her, or the other women who have been, as one of them put it ‘banging on about these issues’ for years. I am pleased she lived to see the NDIS become a reality. Despite its imperfections, it represents an important landmark in her career as an advocate and activist. When I figure out how to post photos in this blog, I’ll put up a cracker of her taken in the 1980s at the Miss Australia quest.

    Cheers, Nikki

  3. Ardy Tibby says:

    Lesley was at ALGA on Thursday, doing research and enjoying all of us. I often saw her out and about at all manner of events at actions.
    Wherever she is now, you can bet she is busy !

  4. Jean Taylor says:

    was saddened to read of the death of Lesley Hall who was a committed activist over several decades on behalf of lesbians, women and Aboriginal and Islander people, we will all miss her compassion and intelligent energy

  5. Stephen Eastop says:

    I thought I had it worked out until we shared that COSHG office. So many good memories, so much you taught me, so much you reinforced and so many things we banged head about, all and only with a shared mindset to work out how to make it better, make it just, make it joyous.

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