Wednesday, 13 November 2019            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY            Page 8499/8500

The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (11:47): I would like to speak today on the motion brought forward by the member for Hurtle Vale. What is life all about? It is pretty simple for most people: loving family and friends, keeping healthy, having an active social life and a job. However, for many people with a disability, the last item on this list—having a job—is surprisingly hard to achieve.

It is very unfortunate that some people who may not have had direct contact with people with some form of disability may not understand what capabilities these people have. Over four million people in Australia have some form of disability. That is one in five people; 18.6 per cent of females, and 18 per cent of males in Australia have a disability. The likelihood of living with a disability increases with age. A person who may have a disability can have a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activity.

There are many forms of disability. The three most common physical disabilities could include acquired brain injuries, epilepsy or cerebral palsy, or multiple sclerosis (MS). Disabled people may express depression and social isolation as a result of their limitations. They may also experience financial instability as a result of their mental or physical limitations. Can you imagine being confined to a restricted vehicular unit, being in a wheelchair or confined to a bed, and how that might impact on your mental wellbeing?

I have had numerous contacts with people who suffer from autism and also from Autism SA. These people are very capable of carrying out various tasks throughout their lives and in the community. While autism is classified as a disability, for the time being there is no special medicine or treatment that would make it go away. No-one can catch it from being near you. People with an autism spectrum disorder usually live a very normal life.

In Port Pirie and surrounding regional locations, we have very good facilities for people with a disability, including organisations like Bedford, Orana and SCOSA. These organisations not only provide assistance for those with an issue but, very importantly, give great support to the parents of these children or youths. They also allow these people to feel pride, as not only can they associate with others who may have similar issues but, very importantly, they can be proud to contribute something to society by making various items or products for the respective organisations.

I have previously spoken in this house about Kellie Martlew in particular, who has progressed from attending one of these organisations to now working for Woolworths. I first met Kellie some years ago. I also come into contact with various others who are being given the opportunity to work in other areas, including Woolworths, Coles, Spencer Motors Port Pirie and other firms. Kellie Martlew, in particular, has attained great achievements in the Special Olympics, playing tenpin bowling, and attending the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Kellie worked extremely hard to achieve this position. She had the support of our community and the business community throughout, not only physical and mental support but also financial support. In her journey, Kellie has been accompanied locally by other people who have had similar issues, including those working in other organisations or in the private sector.

Recently, I was privileged to be involved with the Lions Club of Port Pirie, who suggested that there was an opportunity to provide a Liberty Swing for the Mid North Education Centre at Port Pirie. The Liberty Swing is a swing where a person in a wheelchair or someone confined to a bed can be put into a swing apparatus, secured and locked in, and be able to actually swing. The member for Stuart was there as the minister representing the Premier at the opening of this swing.

The Mid North Education Centre accommodates children who have some form of disability, including those who are confined to a wheelchair, and one particular child, Georgia, who is basically confined to a bed. These children cannot participate in recreational activities, such as being on a swing and enjoying swinging in the air and things everybody else takes for granted.

As I said earlier, the Liberty Swing allows children in wheelchairs or in a bed, as in Georgia’s case, to be locked into the enclosure and enjoy being pushed through the air. Just to see the faces and the look in their eyes when they were in this apparatus was something money cannot buy. The funds to achieve this were also supported by the Premier with a grant of up to nearly $10,000 towards the total cost, which was in the vicinity of $75,000.

After seeing the faces of these children, my concern about this facility is: what happens in out-of-school hours or during school holidays? There is nothing else similar in our community for these people to enjoy outside the school grounds. Therefore, I have made a suggestion to the Port Pirie Regional Council that it utilises some of the funds achieved many years ago by the sale to Country Health SA of the Port Pirie YMCA clubrooms and to put them in a trust fund. I have suggested that perhaps the Port Pirie Regional Council could utilise a portion of these funds, together with any community finances, state, local or private funds that may be available to supplement the proposal, to provide a similar facility for children with a disability to enjoy this activity outside school hours.

We must always remember that just because someone has a disability it does not preclude them from participating in the community, nor should they excluded from other activities that others may take for granted. In closing, I want to say how emotional it can be when you see your own grandchildren enjoying facilities and activities that normal people enjoy and then see that these other children cannot enjoy what we in this community and in this house have taken for granted over many years.

To see the expression on these children’s faces is worth a million dollars. Every one of us in this house, and everybody in our communities and in our great state, should appreciate and respect those people and make certain that we provide as many opportunities for them to enjoy as we do for other children. Again, I commend this motion to the house.