Sarah wins national disability award for meningococcal policy work

Sarah Joyce is a disability advocate

Local woman Sarah Joyce is a meningococcal survivor who continues to suffer debilitating side effects of the disease that very nearly killed her in 2016.

Last week while in yet another hospital treatment she was shocked to be awarded one of the country’s top disability awards for Change Making by the Disability Institute of Australia.

For years since her diagnosis she has dedicated her time between hospital visits to promoting meningococcal awareness across the state and around the nation.

As an ambassador for Meningitis Centre Australia, Sarah has been featured in media and on buses and billboards.

Sarah Joyce was surprised to win her national award

In her award citation, the judges mentioned how Sarah’s dedicated advocacy played a pivotal role in the recognition of World Meningitis Day in Australia by health ministers and significantly boosted meningococcal vaccination rates and access.

Sarah Joyce was 30 when she was struck down with Meningococcal W Strain and septicaemia, in August, 2016.

What started as flu like symptoms ended with a trip to the ER, where Sarah manifested the tell-tale purple rash that the disease is known for.

Within hours, she was placed in an induced coma and put on life support, with her family told to say their goodbyes.

Miraculously, Sarah survived an eight-day stint on life support, awaking from her coma, only to spend the next two months in intensive care fighting multiple organ failure.

Sarah pulled through, but her road to recovery has been marred with multiple battles.

In the past four years, she’s spent more time in hospital than at home.

She’s lost her spleen, gall bladder, fingers and toes and most of her bowel.

Sarah was one of seven Australians honoured in this year’s Disability Awards organised by the Disability Leadership Institute Australia.


Local survivor calls on Coasties to get vaccinated – May 2020

Sarah’s donated kidney a little ripper – July 2021

Meningococcal survivor lobbies for vaccine – October 2023