Living with Polio
Oct 26, 2021 7:40 AM
Shirley Glance
Living with Polio

At the very young age of 14 months, I contracted poliomyelitis, and as a consequence had to spend many months at the Royal Children’s Hospital followed by attending Yooralla school for the disabled. I entered mainstream schooling at the age of 7. When I was 14 years old, I had my first of many operations on my polio leg. It was a daunting experience and I remember being asked as I was being wheeled down to theatre “are you having your tonsils out?” I believe that was my ‘light bulb moment’: I needed to speak up for myself.

This principle I have applied all my life for myself and others without even realising that this would become so important – that sharing my experiences might help others overcome their concerns. My involvement within the polio community has been extensive and covered a wide range of activities - planning Polio Days both regional and CBD, participating in the Volunteer School Speakers Program and attending the ‘Living with Polio in the 21st Century” conference in Atlanta, USA.

On my return from America, I re-established the Bayside Polio Support Group. Owing to Covid-19 we have been keeping in touch with our members by Zoom, a great way to reach out to our members. I recently joined the Board of Post-Polio Victoria Inc. and am currently the President. Our principal aim is advocacy for best outcome and equal and equitable access for people with polio to enable them to thrive in the community. Post-Polio Victoria is currently advocating against the exclusion of people over 65 with polio disability from accessing the National Disability Scheme. This is currently receiving considerable media coverage, via

Advocacy is so much part of my life that when diagnosed in 2016 with breast cancer I saw the opportunity to raise awareness of people living with a disability and having breast cancer. I have contributed to a video for Breast Cancer Network Australia “Facing breast cancer with a disability” and I am actively involved with Breast Screen Victoria and Monash Health Community Advisory Committee as a consumer adviser. I am always seeking ways to raise awareness for people with disabilities. My other driving passion is the National Council of Jewish Women Vic. From 2014-16 I was President of this organisation, and in 2017-2020, Co-Vice President at the National level. NCJWA advocates, educates and empowers women.

In the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours listing I was honoured to be awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for my services to the community - National Council of Jewish Women of Australia and the Polio community.