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National Wheelchair Trek Honoured

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

National Museum of Australia displays Jacob Baldwin wheelchair

Disability campaigner Jacob Baldwin dedicated his life to proving that everyone has the ability to achieve and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra is honouring his work by displaying a wheelchair used in his high profile four-and-half year Australia-wide Ability Trek.

Determined to challenge assumptions about people with disabilities, Mr Baldwin travelled around Australia in his motorised wheelchair between 1992-1996, completing a 16,500km journey at a top speed of 8km/h.

Jacob Baldwin
Jacob Francis Baldwin in main St. of Melbourne during Ability wheelchair Trek. Courtesy Kevin and Veronica Baldwin.

Born with cerebral palsy which rendered him almost completely paralysed, Mr Baldwin (1951-2010) was the first person to attempt the feat. Despite facing extremes in weather, equipment breakdowns and accidents, he achieved his goal and received an official welcome at Sydney’s Town Hall, on September 8th 1996.

"Mr Baldwin was a passionate and pioneering Australian disability campaigner who saw his disability as ‘a gift’ he could use to demonstrate that everyone has the capacity to achieve their goals," said National Museum curator, Anthea Gunn.

The National Museum is displaying items from the trek including the wheelchair and an akubra-style hat.

Mr Baldwin was an early advocate for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and broke ground in many areas, completing a Diploma in Rehabilitation Counselling at Cumberland College of Health Sciences, Sydney University in 1979. He was the first disabled person to work in community welfare.

A bequest from Mr Baldwin’s parents will fund a Sydney University scholarship in his name to encourage other Australians with disabilities to follow his lead.

The wheelchair and other items will be on display in the Eternity Gallery until 2016.


For more information and photos please contact Tracy Sutherland, (02) 6208 5338 / 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au