Young care advocate
VICState RecipientYoung Australian of the Year2011
Life for Anj Barker changed forever when she was brutally bashed by her ex-boyfriend. She suffered severe brain injury and spent three gruelling years in hospital, rehab and a nursing home before being able to return home, still needing full time care. Anj describes the two-and-a-half years spent housed in a nursing home as ‘hell’. As a teenager living among the very elderly, she felt angry, sad and trapped. Despite the enormous challenges she faces daily, Anj is determined to open the hearts and minds of others. She campaigns to stop young people ending up in nursing homes for the elderly and for the introduction of a national no fault insurance scheme, so that people with acquired brain injury can have an equal opportunity to regain an active and productive life. Anj educates the public on anti-violence, talking to students, young women, police and politicians. She empowers others to say ‘no’ to violence, by advocating respectful relationships and has represented Australia at the United Nations. She also works to educate others to see the person, not the disability. Anj Barker is an exceptional young woman who has displayed strength and courage in the face of horrific injuries.