Elizabeth feels so strongly about the lack of government support for polio survivors that she is travelling across the country to join her fellows in Canberra on Wednesday 26th June 2013.
Although I was born on 1st July, over 60 years ago, my story really began on 27th September 1951 when, at the age of 15 months, I was taken to hospital and diagnosed with polio. I spent the next fifteen months in the Golden Age Hospital (WA).
Towards the end of my stay in hospital, I was allowed home for the weekends. I would go home with both legs in plaster, with a wooden bar holding my legs together.
What is a memorable childhood experience?
When I came home at 2½ years, my father made me parallel bars so I could learn to walk. I was given a jelly bean for every length I walked. Mum also helped me do exercises on the kitchen table – we used to listen to Jason and the Argonauts on ABC radio.
Elizabeth started swimming at about age 5. At the age of 14 years and 4 months, she competed in the Tokyo Paralympics (the youngest person to represent Australia), and won 3 gold medals and broke three world records.
My most memorable childhood experience was swimming at Beatty Park and being told by my coach that I had just broken a World Record. Then going on to Adelaide for the Australian Selection trials then onto Tokyo and realising there were other people with disabilities like me.
That was just the beginning of a long and successful swimming career, which is still ongoing. Click here to read more.
How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?
In 2011, I had a new challenge to face – I was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome in my right arm. I now use an electric wheelchair full time – 18 months ago I was still walking with the aid of crutches.
Why are you going to Canberra?
To support the campaign as I am worried about the future – I will be 65 in two years and will then be in the aged care system and not someone with a disability.
Please send Elizabeth a message of support for her Canberra campaign by making a comment below.