Mrs Nola Buck, Ability Options life member and long-serving Board Director has been awarded the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to people with disability, and to the community.
The entire Ability Options community is delighted and would like to congratulate Mrs Buck on the recognition of her lifetime’s leadership, advocacy and support for people with disability.
Diagnosed with Polio at age two, Mrs Buck has spent her life advocating for people with disability. As well as serving for 16 years as a Director for Ability Options, leading and governing the growth of Ability Options to becoming one of the largest providers in NSW, she has hosted international conferences, led organisations, and raised four children.
Nola’s advocacy for vulnerable people has been consistent for over 40 years. Nola retired from the Ability Options Board in 2018 after serving for 16 years.
“In my lifetime I’ve seen many people dedicate their life to advocating for people with disability and those that need a voice in our community, and my contribution does not feel as significant. But I am deeply honoured for the recognition. I hope it helps to shine a light on the importance of speaking up and supporting vulnerable people.”
Ability Options CEO Julia Squire shared about the nomination: “Nola’s advocacy has been continuous, consistent and effective. As a Director Nola always put the person first. Her advice and advocacy were second to none and her ability to translate a big picture to meaningful improvements for individuals and their communities has helped steer Ability Options to where it is today – a trusted and valued service provider.
Nola is a feisty smart and sensible advocate for our sector and a lovely person to work alongside. Her values are our values. It has been a privilege to have her support as a Board Director of Ability Options Board and our honour to nominate her for the award.”
Mrs Buck led the Catholic Women’s League Australia Inc. - Parramatta Diocese, and Polio NSW as President and is a life member of both. She has been involved with the Walking with Refugees group and is also a life member of People with Disability Australia.
In her work in the Disability Sector, she has built a legacy of educating and uplifting people, constantly looking for ways to improve people’s lives. “It can’t be said enough. People with disability need to be as independent as possible. Regardless of the type of disability, we want what any other human being wants. And yes, we’ve come a long way as a society, in my time. There’s far better acceptance of people with disability and greater understanding. But it does feel like there’s a long way to go. There are some strong voices in our community now and organisations with wonderful commitment. However, there does need to be a willingness on the part of the government to make things happen and ensure people are adequately supported.”
Living with Polio, Mrs Buck’s experience with disability formed a distinctive level of empathy and understanding for other people. She has been steadfast in being the voice for people with disability and improving their experience both with Polio NSW, People with Disability Australia, and Ability Options.
“As a person with a disability, Nola never allowed her disability to hinder her activities or commitment. She took every opportunity to educate the public around the challenges and opportunities of living with disability,” Mrs Squire said.
“I’ve been lucky. I took the opportunities that came my way. They were a way for me to learn and bring recognition to some important causes. It’s now been 40 years since I first started advocating for people with disability and if there’s a piece of advice I can give to others who are feeling hesitant about speaking up for others, it’s to take the opportunities that come your way, even if it feels a bit uncomfortable. You may not realise the impact your voice will have on the lives of others.”
As a Director of Ability Options, Mrs Buck not only brought her extensive experience, but vigorously advocated for growth, accessible buildings and events, and representation of people with disability on the Board.
Mrs Buck’s consistent question at board meetings was: “What value does this bring to the people we support?”
The passion and dedication throughout her career of giving her time to improve the lives of people with disabilities remain at the heart of Ability Options and is one of the many reasons for her Order of Australia Award.