Australian Story remembers Matt

Australian Story will repeat a profile of disabled activist Matt Laffan, who died in Sydney on March 1st.

mlOn Monday night, Australian Story will repeat a profile of disabled activist Matt Laffan, who died in Sydney on March 1st.

Ben Cheshire, one of the producers working on Australian Story since the program began in 1996, says, “Quite often, people ask me whether I have a favourite story from all those years. And the answer is yes.

“It’s the story of Matt Laffan, a bloke small in stature but big in heart, who became a great friend to me.”

Laffan was born with a rare genetic disorder, diastrophic dysplasia, which meant that his limbs would not grow to the normal length. It was a one in a million chance, caused by both parents unknowingly carrying the recessive gene. He was given a week to live. At the age of ten, an operation to correct the twisting in his spine led to him becoming a paraplegic. Australian Story met Laffan in 2000 when he was 30.

He later became a lawyer with the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, and a member of the NSW Rugby Judiciary. In his spare time, he ran a website with tips for disabled travellers. He even had a tilt at running for Lord Mayor of Sydney.

But in January he was admitted to hospital with respiratory failure.

Laffan also appeared on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton.

Australian Story airs 8:00pm Monday on ABC1.

2 Responses

  1. I worked with Matt in the Sydney DPP back in the late 90s. We were making our way along Castlereagh Street after work one afternoon and chatting when he stopped mid-sentence and had a minor seizure. I asked if he needed some help and Matt was very matter-of-fact that it was a regular thing, all part of his condition. He was living in a stylish serviced apartment not far from the office, and was highly regarded by his colleagues, opponents and the judiciary for his fearsome intellect and relentless pursuit of the facts. Needless to say, it came as a deep shock to hear of his passing, long after I had left the profession. Matt was a force of nature, irrepressible, irreplaceable, inspirational.

  2. For anyone who missed it on TV, you can watch “The Laffan Legacy” online at ABC’s Aus Story website.

    For anyone who wants to donate to the Matt Laffan Memorial Scholarship there is also a website.

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