Matt McCracken’s fearless advocacy for people living with a disability was recognised in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, where he was awarded an Order of the Medal of Australia.
Matt’s legacy also lives on in the Award for Accessibility & Inclusiveness Excellence in the Moreton Bay Business Excellence and Innovation Awards – a new category in this year’s awards program.
The Morayfield man, who passed away in April, was so dedicated to helping people with disabilities he was giving advice from his hospital bed even as his own health was failing.
His family and friends say he would have been thrilled by the honour – even though he’s a republican.
Matt founded the Caboolture Disability Support Network in 2007, working tirelessly to advocate on behalf of people living with disabilities.
He was also a board director for the Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) and the convenor of the Caboolture Peer Support Group.
His 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.
Wendy says Matt would have been amazed by his OAM.
“I wish he had been here to collect it.
“He would be so overwhelmed, I think.”
Matt’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,” she says.
Matt was also the inspiration behind the new Award for Accessibility & Inclusiveness Excellence in the 2022 Moreton Bay Business Excellence and Innovation Awards, presented by Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT) in partnership with Moreton Bay Regional Council.
As a fearless advocate for people living with a disability, Matt and was passionate about MBRIT creating a bespoke category to acknowledge and recognise the work of businesses in this space. Matt was to have been a judge for the category and his work was remembered at the gala awards ceremony, attended by his family, last month.
About Matt McCracken
Queensland Disability Network chief executive officer Paige Armstrong describes Matt, 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,” Paige 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.”
Paige 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.”
QDN engagement manager Olivia Spadina says Matt, 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.”
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