Australian Story on ABC – In an exclusive story filmed over two and a half years, Australian Story has been following the life of Jimmy and Jane Barnes’ youngest daughter, Elly-May, who has cerebral palsy.   

Elly-May’s disability has never been a secret.  But if anything, we’ve tried to keep it a secret from her.” 

– Jimmy Barnes

Born 14 weeks premature and given only a 50/50 chance of survival, Elly-May was diagnosed when she was three. 

She’s endured a lifetime of medical procedures which she thought would limit her musical career to being a backup singer for her father. 

“Punters out there used to see my show, saying how great it was to see Elly-May up singing with us, but they didn’t know what it took physically for her to get from the ground up to the stage.  It was a monumental effort,” says Jimmy. 

Now at 34, Elly-May Barnes is stepping out as a solo cabaret artist – and an advocate for people with disabilities. 

Her cabaret show, often featuring special guests including her dad, her brother David Campbell and her uncle Mark Lizotte – better known as Diesel – is usually a sellout. 

The success of the show, in which she talks, jokes and sings about her disability, has led to a new role as an advocate. 

“I’m in a place where I am comfortable with who I am and to tell my story.  It’s OK to be happy and disabled,” she told Australian Story

“If you have any opportunity to give disability a platform, you’ve got to take it.” 

Producer: Ben Cheshire

Australian Story on ABC and ABC iview – Monday 20 November, 2023 at 8:00pm

Media Release – ABC

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Australian Story on ABC

Australian Story on ABC
Australian Story on ABC