Caboolture Disability Network founder honoured

Published 6:00pm 13 June 2022

Caboolture Disability Network founder honoured
Words by Jodie Powell

Matt McCracken was so dedicated to helping people with disabilities he was giving advice from his hospital bed even as his own health was failing.

The Morayfield man, who was awarded an Order of the Medal of Australia in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list, passed away in April.

His family and friends say he would be thrilled by the honour – even though he’s a republican.

Mr McCracken founded the Caboolture Disability Support Network in 2007, working tirelessly to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.

He was also a board director for the Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) and the convenor of the Caboolture Peer Support Group.

Fitting honour

Mr McCracken’s wife, Wendy, says he suffered a spinal cord injury after falling from a playground swing as an adult.

“His shorts got caught in the swing and he headbutted the ground – he realised he’d broken his neck,” she says.

Mrs McCracken says he would be amazed by his OAM.

“I wish he had been here to collect it.

“He would be so overwhelmed, I think.”

Mr McCracken’s sister, Christine Gurnett, says her brother, one of eight children, would be proud of the achievement and delighted to share it with his two children and seven grandchildren.

“He made a big difference,” he says

Strong connections

Caboolture Disability Network founder honoured

QDN chief executive officer Paige Armstrong describes Mr McCracken, who was also a member of the Moreton Bay Regional Disability Network, as a humble man who never sought the limelight.

“Despite the health issues he had towards the end of his life, he absolutely had this level of charisma that attracted people to him,” Ms Armstrong says.

“He was a great influencer and formed strong connections with local and federal politicians.

“He held two round-tables in Caboolture and at one of them he got the state minister and the Prime Minister to come to talk about NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) issues – that’s the level of influence he had.”

Ms Armstrong says QDN nominated Mr McCracken for his Queen’s Birthday Honour.

“Matt was a republican, but he would have approved of the honour and the recognition.

“For us it was about making sure all the work he has done across many years – not just in this organisation – was recognised.

“He always helped people with disabilities to be the master of their own lives and to be part of the decision making by government.”

Selfless service

QDN engagement manager Olivia Spadina says Mr McCracken, who was named Volunteer of the Year by Carers Queensland in 2020, gave selflessly to the disability community.

“Even in hospital he was trying to help others,” she says.

“He always had time for people to have a chat and find out what they needed – he had this great capacity to be there for other people.”

Read more local news here.

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