Australia mourns loss of ‘disability warrior’ Quentin Kenihan

Bill Shorten, Julia Gillard, Russell Crowe and disability groups have led tributes to disability advocate Quentin Kenihan who died at the weekend.

Bill Shorten, Julia Gillard, Russell Crowe and disability groups have led tributes to disability advocate Quentin Kenihan who died at the weekend.

His friend and manager Abby Edwards said Kenihan, 43, died after his mask was knocked off while he was suffering an asthma attack and attempts to revive him failed.

Ms Edwards remembered Kenihan as a social commentator and champion for the vulnerable. Despite Kenihan’s small stature, she told Community Care Review he was someone who was “larger than life” and loved being the centre of attention.

“He loved to be in the limelight,” she said on Monday. “He would have loved all the attention he’s getting now, he would have been stoked to know he’s been all over the news.”

Remembered for tireless advocacy

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard took to twitter to thank Kenihan for his lessons about the strength of the human spirit. “#QuentinKenihan inspired us all throughout his life,” she wrote.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said Kenihan had shown the how to “find the inner superhero in ourselves” and praised him as a “warrior for people with disability”.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations said  Kenihan would be remembered for “his tireless advocacy for people with disabilities”, while fellow disability activist Carly Findlay also paid tribute saying “he had so much more to do on this earth”.

Actor Crowe wrote “devastating news. My little mate, the bravest bloke I ever met …  not confined anymore.”

Brittle bone disease

Kenihan was born with the rare genetic condition osteogenesis imperfecta which affects the bones and causes them to be fragile. The disease left him wheelchair-bound and caused him to suffer multiple fractures.

Born in 1975, he became known and loved around Australia after featuring in a Mike Willesee documentary, Quentin, at the age of seven, which showcased his wit, pluck and humour.

Kenihan later overcame a battle with drugs and alcohol to excel as a writer, actor – playing a role in Mad Max Fury Road –  and aspiring local politician.

At the time of his death he was running for election to Adelaide City Council on a platform of safety, technology, access and inclusion, including establishing disability inclusive playgrounds and doubling the number of power charging stations for wheelchairs and scooters.

He had just released his autobiography Not All Superheroes Wear Capes.

Did you known Quentin? How did he affect your life? Leave a comment below. 

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