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Vale Trevor Allan


On the 9th of June we received the sad news that a giant of our sector, Trevor Allan, had passed away. Trevor was a pioneering figure in promoting accessibility and inclusion for students with disability in Australian tertiary education. To those who are, or have been, in the disability tertiary sector, Trevor was our elder statesman, the one we looked up to and turned to for advice.

For over three decades Trevor made outstanding contributions to this sector, which were recognised through many accolades and awards including  being awarded the inaugural Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability (ATEND) Honorary Life Membership in 2014. This was awarded to Trevor at the Pathways 12 conference in recognition of his exceptional dedication and impact on advancing inclusive education for students with disability.

In 2024, we at Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) introduced the Trevor Allan Award for Excellence in Disability Inclusion and Accessibility after consultation with Trevor and his family, which honours individuals demonstrating sustained commitment to promoting accessibility and inclusion for students with disability. This prestigious annual award commemorates Trevor’s lifelong passion and leadership in this field. At ADCET’s 2024 Accessibility in Action Awards, we were very fortunate to have Trevor and his daughter Katy join us as we announced the inaugural winner of this award, Cathy Easte. Cathy stated in her acceptance speech that Trevor believed true success lies in our collective. His community spirit shone through in all of his interactions and in his commitment to building sector capacity through openly sharing ideas, thoughts and experiences.

To help paint the picture of Trevor for those who didn’t know him, ATTEND, supported by ADCET, hosts an email list with over 700 members that enables new and old disability practitioners and other supporting and teaching staff within the tertiary sector to ask questions and seek advice on issues and challenges they are grappling with in relation to students with disability. A well-established colleague in the tertiary sector stated that this email list is one of the most beneficial list serves within Australia. From questions around reasonable adjustments to inherent requirements to assistive technology, Trevor would more often than not chime in with his thoughts and advice with his standard warmth, wit, and humour. Beyond just advice he would seek to affirm the person's question and curiosity in seeking answers and he remained active on this list throughout his retirement. His last post to us was at the end of May commending the advocacy the sector was doing in regard to the University Accord and students with disability. To read more of the work Trevor undertook search ADCET and you will find a wealth of presentations, content and work produced by the great man.

On a personal note, Trevor guided and supported me throughout my career and supported my many ideas and passions. He cheered me on from the sidelines for the last few years and continued to encourage me to keep on fighting the good fight. Like him I have found my calling in this sector, and gosh I am going to miss those bear hugs and wise and thoughtful words.

Trevor Allan's background in teaching, law, disability advocacy, and writing, uniquely positioned him to drive systemic change and shift attitudes towards ensuring students with disability have equal access in tertiary education. He significantly influenced the development of inclusive policies, practices, and support services not just within the universities he worked at but across the nation and across the ditch to New Zealand.

Our deepest sympathy to his wife Julie, daughter Katy, his other children and extended family. While Trevor’s absence from the sector will be keenly felt, he leaves us with a passionate sector forever enriched by his presence and contributions.

Vale Trevor

Darlene McLennan, Manager, ADCET