Spinal Injuries Association 2015 Inclusive Community Champions State Awards
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all here this afternoon - elected representatives, Board members, executive and staff of Spinal Injuries Australia, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honour and pleasure for us to mark Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week by hosting the twenty-fifteen Inclusive Community Champions Awards for Queensland.
Last year, I was very pleased that my first official duty as Patron of Spinal Injuries Australia in our State was to present these awards — and doubly pleased, as the former Chief Justice, when the Supreme Court of Queensland was announced as the State Champion for its Equal Treatment Benchbook.
This year’s awards ceremony is even more exciting for Kaye and me — and for all of us here at Government House, because, for the very first time in its one hundred and fifty year history, this magnificent building is now fully ‘visit-able’, to borrow the marvellous word which Mr Maha Sinnathamby used in his passionate Robert Jones Memorial Oration earlier this year.
It took three reports, eight years of patient negotiation, and consideration of nine ramp locations and sixteen lift options, but finally, on Queensland Day twenty-fifteen, we were able to celebrate installation of the two lifts which many of you will have used today. It is immensely satisfying to be able to say that Fernberg is now truly a house for all Queenslanders.
Of course the challenges that confronted the engineers and heritage architects in the course of our Equitable Access Project are as nothing compared to those encountered every day by people living with disability.
I have the greatest respect and admiration for their courage and determination, and for the advocacy which Spinal Injuries Australia has now undertaken with such focus and passion for more than fifty years. Equally, I recognise the many individuals and organisations here today who share the association’s commitment to eliminating social and physical barriers, achieving legislative reform, and gaining greater community recognition and acceptance of people with disability.
Finally, I congratulate, most warmly, this year’s finalists. Kaye and I look forward to hearing the announcement of the State Champion and to meeting you all after the ceremony.