Milly Parker has been surrounded by people with disabilities her entire life.
“From when I was 7-years-old I was hanging out with people with disabilities, they were my buddies,” Ms Parker said.
“They were part of my natural world.”
However, when Ms Parker was 21-years-old she suffered a brain injury as a result of a car crash where she was lifted to the Alfred Hospital.
“I got to experience what it’s like to be a person living with a disability myself,” she said.
Despite doctors providing her family with a negative outlook, Ms Parker was determined to succeed.
Ms Parker has been named an Order of Australia Medal recipient in the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours List for her advocacy roles for people with disabilities.
She has been an advocate for young people in nursing homes, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Every Australian counts campaign and was a committee member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council.
In 2014 Ms Parker was a participant in ABC’s Four Corners program for a story related to the abuse of people with disabilities at the Victorian disability organisation Yooralla.
She also has a long list of awards for a range of other achievements and created her own business creating gourmet dog treats, Happy Yappers.
“When I found out I was going to be honoured everything flashed before my eyes,” she said.
“What I had been through, the people I had met who had mentored and supported me on my journey and what I had seen my mum go through.
“It was an absolute mix of emotions, there were plenty tears of happiness.
“A truly surreal moment.”
Ms Parker has dedicated her life to help and raise awareness for people with disabilities.
“We all just want to be respected and given a go,” she said.
“People with disabilities can sometimes be so underestimated in life.
“It’s great to see over the last five years that really cool things have started happening for people with disabilities, it makes me so proud.
“The trick in life is to never give up, you will get knocked down but just have to dust yourself off and try again.”