Connor loves drumming, playing computer games and banter with his mum. He doesn’t allow his blindness to hold him back:
“Mum told me that she wishes every day that I wasn't blind. Obviously, blind is blind, but if you don't let it stop you, what's it stopping you from doing? Nothing."
Unlike most 15-year-olds, Connor changed the world today.
The new $5 note, released into circulation today, is Australia’s first ever bank note that blind people can read because it includes tactile markings.
Bruce Maguire, lead policy advisor at Vision Australia, said:
"As a blind person I think this change is one of the most significant — if not the most significant — inclusive actions I've seen in Australia in my lifetime. What really spurred the Reserve Bank on was the petition that Connor McLeod started.”
Connor started the petition after a frustrating Christmas present: “I got some money in a card and had no idea how much it was and how generous or tight-arse the present-giver had been! It was frustrating and slightly embarrassing.”
He wanted to do something about it:
“If I come across something that doesn’t sound right, I like to do something about it rather than just complain. That’s what the Change.org tool helped me to do. Setting up the petition was the easy bit - convincing the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) was harder, but then I had a squad of 57,000 petition signers to help me persuade them. It felt unlikely they’d listen to a young blind boy. But in the end, they had to.”
Connor’s mum helped him start a petition on Change.org. He was just 12 at the time.
Connor and mum Ally travelled to Canberra to deliver their petition to MPs and win cross-party support, including then Assistant Treasurer Steven Ciobo. They then took the RBA to the High Court.
These actions, combined with the 57,000 petition signers writing to the RBA to keep the pressure on, resulted in victory.
“Above all, it means I can be independent”, Connor said. “I can’t wait for that. That feels good.”
PS - inspired by Connor’s story, artist Aaron Tyler has re-designed his fun take on Australia’s $5 note, featuring Connor in place of the queen:
Aaron said: “Connor McLeod isn't a legend because he’s blind, he’s a legend because he saw an injustice and took action to make it right. Despite being told there’d be no tactile markings for blind people, he garnered support on Change.org. Next get the new fiver in your change, feel the new bumps, and think about how Connor has changed our banknotes forever. His spot on Straya Cash is a recognition of his ripper idea.”