June 13, 2023

Professor Emerita Patricia O’Brien has been awarded a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the King’s Birthday honours for 2023 in recognition of her decades of work championing inclusion for people with disability.


A member of the Achieve Australia Board since 2011 and Chair of The Achieve Foundation since 2022, Patricia is renown internationally for leading inclusive research initiatives where people with intellectual disabilities are involved as co-researchers. She is Professor Emerita, Sydney Medical School at the Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney and was the Director of the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS), affiliated with the University of Sydney, from 2009 to 2020. 

Achieve Australia CEO Jo-Anne Hewitt has known Patricia for more than a decade. Jo-Anne was Chair of CDS between 2010 and 2017 and remained on its Board until 2020. Jo-Anne was appointed Achieve’s CEO in 2019.

“Everyone at Achieve was thrilled to see Patricia recognised in the King’s Birthday honours. It is long overdue,” Jo-Anne says.

“Patricia has been a trail blazer in so many ways. She has lived and breathed inclusion in all areas of her life. She doesn’t see disability but only potential,” she says.

“Patricia started a program called ‘uni 2 beyond’ to support people with intellectual disability to pursue a university education. Her work leading inclusive research initiatives is another good example. Researchers with lived experience of disability were central to projects determining the questions to be explored and conducting the research.”

“She has also educated people from all walks of life on what genuine inclusion for people with disability is and continues to do so and always with generosity and grace,” Jo-Anne says.

“We feel very fortunate to have Patricia’s wealth of experience informing our work.”

Read more about Patricia O’Brien on our page about the Achieve Australia Board.