Opening Ceremony of the 17th Deafblind International World Conference
Good morning. On behalf of the people of Queensland, it is my pleasure, as Governor of Queensland, to welcome to the Gold Coast delegates at the 17th Deafblind International World Conference. I extend a special welcome to interstate and international visitors.
There are many reasons why you may be here today.
Perhaps it is in your capacity as an academic or professional.
Perhaps you are an advocate for a friend or family member.
Or maybe you are here to discover the ways in which international research and best practice can better shape your own world.
Wherever you have travelled from – and I believe there are representatives from over 30 countries in attendance – you have done so because the condition of deafblindness has touched your life in a significant way.
In a room full of so many experts, I hardly need to tell you what an immense challenge it is to live with deafblindness.
It affects a wide diversity of people, impairing vision and hearing in a variance of degrees.
It is described as a unique and isolating disability. And I can only imagine that for many that is the case.
Whether it is through aural communication, various forms of sign language including tactile and deafblind fingerspelling, alternative and augmentative communication, print and braille – there is an ever-expanding toolkit available to help our deafblind community connect.
In short, as isolating as it might sometimes feel, being deafblind does not mean you are alone.
I applaud each and every delegate for taking the time to attend this conference. You are all committed in your own way to supporting and advocating for our deafblind community.
I acknowledge the work of Able Australia, and the efforts of everyone involved in the organisation of this conference. I thank CEO, Ms Kate MacRae, for inviting me today, to give appropriate community support for, and raise awareness of, the human side of deafblindness.
In its mission statement, Able Australia alludes to the values of trust, kindness, respect and excellence.
It is in the spirit of those same values that I now declare officially open the proceedings of the 17th Deafblind International World Conference.
I wish you all a most enriching and empowering time on the Gold Coast, as you commit, as your conference theme suggests, to ‘sharing the knowledge’. Thank you.