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Kevin Francis Murfitt 9 September 1955 – 6 December 2023


9 September 1955 – 6 December 2023

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Judy McKenzie

I first met Kevin on a call where he was exploring a sabbatical period with us at the University of Cape Town. This was enough to convince me that here was a remarkable man- setting off to Cape Town with his guide dog for an academic exchange and a wedding thrown in! Fortunately we were able to host him in Disability Studies where he contributed to our teacher education work and introduced the term ‘disability confidence’ on our online training- something that has proved very pertinent to teachers. We also had the opportunity to meet Francois and to share a delightful evening or two with them. When he went back to Australia we were kept in constant contact through our co-supervision of Dr Ikechukwu Nwanze. What a pleasure it was to work with him and to connect up on their visits to SA. Some happy times at the Wild Fig! Hamba Kahle, Kevin. You were such a positive person and brought so much to the world in your gentle, intelligent, humorous way. You will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with you, Francois and the rest of Kevin’s family.

Rebekah Bryant

All my thoughts are still with Francois and Kevin’s family grappling with the loss of the gentle man they knew so well. I, like so many people feel honoured to have spent time with Kevin; both as my supervisor at Deakin and then as a friend…I can still hear his gentle, articulate voice affirming my doubts when marking student papers for him... So, the big picture context - He was lead researcher on the Diversity Field Officer Service proof of concept. The photo shows L-R Jessica Zammit, Kevin, myself and Vicki Strachan in 2017. The thrust of this action research was to measure (through manager education and mentoring) if we could increase the confidence of business owners (with the ability of disability) and idea of employing more people with disability… And the little picture context - It’s day four of my employment and I’m giving Kevin a lift to Geelong railway station from Deakin Waterfront and I’m sight-guiding for the first time. Meaning I’m standing next to Kevin, and he is holding my elbow as I lead him to the station. And I’m nervous because this is my first time. Away we go and I’m picturing arriving at the platform and depositing him (my boss/ie precious cargo) safely to await the arrival of the train… So we’re chatting away easily (as you did with Kevin) and I say, ‘Oh look there’s a train still here, over on platform 3 that hasn’t left yet…’ At this point I need to explain that platform three is on the other side of Geelong station. The stairs leading to this far-off world make the word antiquity look like next century design… every stair is concave in surface, way too narrow for any foot and a catastrophe just waiting to happen. And Kevin says – “Do you think we could make it?” My brain registers the intersection of 17 OHS reasons why this is not a good idea but I hear myself say, ‘Sure’ as we start up the first set of stairs in a jog. Kevin’s guide dog soon decides this in an excellent idea and the pace quickens… and suddenly I am running with my blind boss (hello?) to certain death… Occasionally he trips, or the dog trips, or I trip and the trusty railway man at the bottom of the stairs calls out – ‘No need to rush! All the time in the world; take it easy….’ I am APOPLECTIC with fear on the descent and yet we arrive onto the train – there is a spare seat waiting for him and a colleague known to Kevin and they quickly start to chat… He’s cool and unfazed. I however feel like I might collapse from the stress. I drive home and drink a whiskey and lie of the lounge for an hour to recover. Possibly I’m still recovering. Kevin led his life like nothing was a problem; nothing was a limitation. He was calm, warm, unflappable and at ease. This occasion was a non-issue for him because it was his everyday experience of life. I was stressing because it was new to me, not to him. A big lesson for me that day. My pre-conceived ideas about the limitations of his sight impairment were just that. Mine and mine alone. I started writing this story because I thought it was about Kevin but now realise that it’s really about me, learning through the gentle example of a wise and humble elder. And so I honour him. This quiet compassionate man who was such a joy to be around. We are all better for knowing him.

Rebekah Bryant


Jeremy Ham

Very sorry to hear about Kevin’s passing. Kev was not only a great man, a gentle soul but also a role model for us all.