Afternoon Tea for Spinal Life Australia Volunteers in Celebration of International Day of People with Disability
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Kaye and I are delighted that you have been able join us today for this special afternoon tea to acknowledge the exceptional contribution made, here in Queensland, by long-term volunteers to Spinal Life Australia, and to celebrate the International Day of People with Disability.
As Patron of Spinal Life Australia, I am particularly pleased that you can all be here to mark the highly important day in the annual United Nations’ calendar, International Day of People with Disability on the third of December.
The UN now has no fewer than a hundred and thirty international days, but few have enjoyed such widespread support as this one.
This success is due partly to the fact that the new theme each year draws attention to the most current and pressing areas of concern for those living with disability.
This year, the theme is: Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want with a focus on creating greater equity for people with disability through the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Here in Australia, those living with disability face fewer physical barriers to their progress than in developing countries. However, they are as hampered by attitudinal barriers as they were in 1992 when the UN Day was proclaimed.
It is in combatting those attitudes that Spinal Life has led the way – and many of you have been part of that journey.
Like me, you have watched the organisation evolve from a group of people with paraplegia and quadriplegia who met to discuss their needs, into the thriving advocacy, support and networking organisation is it today.
It’s a process that can be seen clearly in the name changes it has undergone since it was established, fifty-six years ago.
The service of all members recognised here today combined is well over 150 years – a tremendous personal commitment, which speaks to both the robust values of this organisation, and the very best of our Queensland spirit.
From its small beginnings as the Paraplegics Welfare Association, it became Spinal Injuries Australia and now, Spinal Life Australia. None of those name changes has been prompted by a whim or by fashion; each has reflected the healthy change of emphasis that we have seen, both in the community and in government: a shift of focus from the condition, to the individual, and giving that person access to a full and meaningful life.
Part of that change in emphasis has been due to the commitment and dedication of the volunteers who have given their time and energy to this organisation.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, especially those living with a disability and their families, I thank you all most sincerely for your service and loyalty – and wish you all a most significant International Day of People with Disability on Saturday.