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Aboriginal Disabled athlete, Wilfred Thomas Prince (b. 1960), was in a children’s home and foster care during his childhood.

Wilfred Thomas Prince was born in Cherbourg Aboriginal Mission in Queensland. He is a descendant of the Kalkadoon Clan from the Mt Isa area in Queensland.

Wilfred was hospitalised sixteen times as a child and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was about two years of age. At the age of five, the boy was transferred to the Xavier Home for Crippled Children in Coorparoo, a suburb of Brisbane. The Home was in operation from 1949 to 1994 and catered for children with a variety of disabilities and from a range of backgrounds.

While living in the home, Willie was separated from family and culture. He was taken out on excursions by a foster family and continues to maintain a connection with that family. Willie has fond memories of the home where he made many friends.

When he was twelve, Willie was moved to Howard Crawford House, a hostel in suburban New Farm. He stayed there for five years before transitioning to independent living.

Sport has been an important part of Willie’s life since his early twenties. He tried wheelchair racing but was more successful at field events such as shotput and discus. He was a member of the Queensland Sporting Wheelies and represented Queensland eleven times and Australia in two competitions in New Zealand.

One memorable win didn’t get off to the best start. As the other five competitors raced ahead out of the starting bloc, what had sounded like the firing gun was Willie’s tyre. Neither Willie nor his Australian teammates had the right replacement tube, so help come from a New Zealander competitor. There were no hard feelings when Willie crossed the line first; in fact, Willie remembers comradery and humour between athletes (State Library of Queensland).

Willie worked at the State Library of Queensland for thirty years as an administrative officer in the Library’s Kuril Dhagun team.

I love my job and the people I work with at the State Library of Queensland. I take great pride in being able to assist the members of my community to make the connections with their family. It is very important (QSuper).

Willie is a highly respected community elder and advocate for people with disabilities. He helped establish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland and is a long-standing board member of LinkUp (QLD) Aboriginal Corporation. He was the bearer of the Paralympic torch through Brisbane streets during the 2000 Paralympic Sydney Games and was a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Queen’s baton bearer in 2018.

A proud Kalkadoon person, Willie is very proactive in both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the disability sector. He has a key role in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland, as well as serving on numerous boards in the community (State Library of Queensland).


“Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement (1904-1986).” Find & Connect, 2019. 

“Proud supporter of the Queen’s Baton Relay.” QSuper, 29 March 2018. 

“Xavier Home for Crippled Children (1949-1994).” Find & Connect, 2021. 

Image supplied by Wilfred Prince Thomas.