Official Opening of the Myhorizon Community and Education Centre
Member for Capalaba, Mr Don Brown MP; Member for Cleveland, Dr Mark Robinson MP; Mayor of Redland City Council, Councillor Karen Williams; President of the Horizon Foundation Ms Louise Dudley; Trustees of the Ian McDougall Trust, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters around Redlands, and express my respect to Elders past and present.
It is a pleasure to join you today.
36 years ago, the United Nations proclaimed 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons.
It was, many have said, the United Nations’ most successful international year.
The International Year of Disabled Persons resonated around the world, especially here in Australia, where it is widely acknowledged as giving life and light to the disability rights movement.
It is hard to fully comprehend how different community attitudes were to people with disabilities 36 years ago.
To give just one example, there was no national legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of disability.
That was not enacted until 1992.
Many felt that people with disabilities should be closeted away from the wider community.
The International Year of Disabled Persons changed all of that, emphatically for the better.
36 years ago, the energy for change generated by the International Year reached here into Redlands, where a group of loving and determined parents grasped the theme of “full participation and equality” and said, in ringing tones, we will have that for our children.
United by their common purpose of creating a better life for people with disability through education, employment and community connection, that group of parents created the organisation we know today as “Myhorizon”, and began the work that ultimately led to the facility I am privileged to open today.
Their story can be encapsulated by that well-known saying, “from little things, big things grow”.
But sometimes through big things, big things grow – and so I acknowledge the generous $450,000 donation from the Ian McDougall Trust, which has funded the outstanding Early Intervention Centre.
I also acknowledge with sincere praise the commitment of the Redland City Council to bring this facility from the drawing board to vibrant reality, including leasing the land, and their grant to the innovative Gymzoonasium project which will help children to develop their motor skills.
Today we stand on the cusp of another transformative event in support for people with disabilities in Australia.
The rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2018 promises more services and opportunities for people with a disability to live their lives with dignity and independence.
With the creation of this thoughtfully designed, multi-purpose community and education centre, Myhorizon is well placed to ensure that the National Disability Insurance Scheme results in greater employment and education opportunities, better support and more effective early intervention for people living here in Redlands.
And that is a very fine achievement.
What is particularly wonderful is that this centre is as far away from that old, discredited approach of closeting disabled people away from the wider community as it is possible to imagine.
The Bush Pantry Café, open to the public, looks to be a wonderful addition to the public amenities here in Capalaba.
Likewise, the spaces for Conferences and events available for public hire not only provide new gathering places for business, community and family groups, they will also provide meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Patron of the International Year of Disabled Persons was Sir Ninian Stephen, the 20th Governor-General of Australia.
As the 26th Governor of Queensland, as I stand in this magnificent facility, I feel we are truly delivering on the promise made by Sir Ninian as the Patron of the International Year of Disabled Persons, to advance “Full Participation and Equality” for people with disabilities.
I commend everyone involved in the design, construction and completion of the Myhorizon Community and Education Centre.
I commend the highly-qualified staff of this centre for their commitment to providing outstanding services to children, young people and adults with disabilities.
It is now my pleasure to declare the Myhorizon Community and Education Centre officially open, and look forward to shortly unveiling the commemorative plaque.