Richard was a humble man with a great sense of humour and the ability to make anyone who met him consider themselves a friend. He was a champion in every sense of the word and was a leader among leaders.
Diagnosed at a very early age with Muscular Spinal Atrophy, Richard spent much of his life in a wheelchair, but did not allow that to stop him from living life to the full. In fact he used his abilities to influence change at the highest levels. Western Australia has lost one of its most effective disability advocates.
Richard taught me some very important lessons about disability when I met him nearly 10 years ago. He came to Baptistcare seeking support, but in a short time I realised that providing support was not something that we do “to” people, but something we do “with” people. Richard employed his own support workers and managed all his own services. He didn’t require a service provider, but a partner who would work with him in helping achieve a good life.
Richard’s approach to disability and the way he championed “self-management” at a time when governments weren’t sure it if was possible, had a significant impact on the way I worked from that time on. He taught me in his gentle way that true support doesn’t start with the support organisation’s wisdom, expertise and authority, but starts with the person; hearing their story, listening to their dreams and honouring their life.
Richard Hill, thankyou for your influence on so many people, and a life in which your many abilities shone brightly.