by Georgina Fiorentino, Susana Valdes, Karen James
In 2001, Rocca had a pedestrian accident and became a quadriplegic. Three years later, Rocca and Georgina first met and became friends when a family connection led Rocca to visit Georgina at the Spinal Rehab ward at the Royal Talbot.
Susana also became close friends with Rocca and was one of the original participants that formed the Dance & Roll group in early 2019. Then, it was through Covid that Karen first met and became good friends with Rocca online via Dance & Roll.
Working as a lawyer in social justice, Rocca used her spare time to promote and strengthen her passions: music, dance, travel, sport and advocating for the disability community.
An excellent public speaker, Rocca was a valued asset at any Austin / AQA WOT day panel she attended, and the many speeches she made for and to other organisations. She was also an active participant and valued member of AQA’s Women’s Community Network.
In 2019, committed both to community building and and her love of Latin music and dancing, she used her endless positivity, energy and creativity to form Dance & Roll. An adaptive dance group, Dance & Roll created a space for wheelchair users to pull some moves, have some fun, connect with others and get in some exercise.
Rocca wouldn’t let Covid and Melbourne’s lockdowns shut Dance & Roll down – she just found another way – online! Now that the lockdowns are over, Dance & Roll is back on twice a week. Once online and the other in person at the Darebin Arts Centre.
Rocca’s dedication to building connections and promoting diversity and inclusion has led to Dance & Roll winning several awards. First, AQA’s Initiative of the Year in 2019, and then Rocca won the 2021 Minister’s Award for Outstanding Leadership at the Victorian Disability Awards. Lastly, Dance & Roll won the Darebin Community Group of the Year for 2022.
Other notable community things Rocca was involved with included being the first female to represent wheelchair users as an ambassador of Vic Health’s This Girl Can campaign, and being the founder of Ability Para Badminton.
Rocca took the people she met under her wing. In Rocca, people met a kind, intelligent, knowledgeable woman who was happy to be used as a sounding board and became a trusted friend. Georgina, Susana and Karen will greatly miss Rocca in their lives as will so many of her other friends from Dance & Roll and the various other community groups and not for profit organisations she was involved with.
To Rocca’s partner Ryan, and Rocca’s family, both here and overseas, we send our heartfelt condolences.
All our love, Rocca.
- January 3, 2024