Spinal Injuries Australia 2014 Inclusive Community Champions State Awards Reception
Kaye and I are truly delighted to welcome you all to Government House. This is our first opportunity, since I accepted Patronage, to publicly recognise Spinal Injuries Australia’s outstanding dedication to enhancing the lives of people who have a spinal injury. That we do so during National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week makes the organisation’s conspicuous service and leadership all the more deserving of acknowledgement.
The construction going on around us – the most significant to Government House since the 1950s – provides an additional layer of significance to today’s ceremony. Two new lifts and a covered walkway will be installed, and toilet facilities will be upgraded, as part of the Equitable Access Project. These measures will improve both access to the House, and the amenity within the House, for people with physical disabilities. Kaye and I look forward to welcoming you to a more accessible residence at next year’s Awards; a residence that better reflects its moniker as ‘the peoples' house’ – welcoming for all the people of Queensland.
Of course, the ambit of the Inclusive Community Champions State Awards is much wider than just recognising projects that improve life for people with spinal cord injuries or physical disabilities.
The great strength of these awards, I suggest, is found in the diversity of the finalists’ projects: improving accessibility to stadiums; increasing comfort for the vision-impaired, and Guide and assistance dogs, at airports; sharing people’s stories through multimedia; and providing guidance to judges when dealing with people from different backgrounds (which has personal significance for me, as I wrote the foreword for the Supreme Court’s ‘Equal Treatment Benchbook’ when I was Chief Justice).
At their core, these projects seek to foster broader social cohesion and to break down social barriers. In breaking down barriers, the projects, and the values espoused through them, also act as a form of ‘scaffolding’, creating steady platforms around our society’s core structures. As our society progresses, this enables everyone to move upwards and grow together, so that we may all reach our full potential.
As Governor, it is my honour to represent, and get to know, all Queenslanders, emphasising mutual respect and support across the many aspects of our State. I am aided in this duty immeasurably by organisations such as those represented here today. You are all truly wonderful people, and you rightly deserved our commendation.