Morning Tea with Braille House – Queensland Braille Writing Association
Minister Bailey; Cr Johnston; Braille House Management Committee Chair, Ms Jacqueline Parker; General Manager, Mr Richard Barker; staff, volunteers and supporters of the Queensland Braille Writing Association.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands, and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
I am delighted to be with you today at Braille House to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition, and to have this opportunity to meet and thank the staff and volunteers of the Queensland Braille Writing Association.
One hundred and twenty-four years ago, a small advertisement appeared in the Telegraph newspaper, announcing a meeting of ‘ladies favourable to the establishment’ of this extraordinary association.
Less than two months later, Lady Lamington, wife of Queensland’s eighth governor, accepted the invitation to become its patroness.
Over the following four years, she gave her advocacy and support to establishing the library which, today, is the lasting legacy of those first Braille writers.
The association’s gratitude was such that, at the Lamingtons’ farewell in 1901, they surprised their patroness with a unique gift – a framed farewell letter, written in Braille, saying ‘we hope it will sometimes remind you of how we are merrily pegging away with our little stilettos, striving to fill the library you helped us to start’.
Braille writers are no longer pegging away with stilettos, but the tradition of vice-regal patronage continues, and today, I am delighted to be able to present to your library a Braillon transcription of Gavel Finds His Place, the children’s book published by Government House last year. I do hope your youngest readers – and a few adults, too! – find this an enjoyable addition to the library.
A second transcribed copy is prominently displayed in the Fernberg Library at Government House, to showcase the important work of Braille House.
I am very grateful to my Executive Officer, Ms Tahnee Odorico, who is here today. It was Tahnee’s idea to have the books transcribed into Braille – for the benefit of Braille House supporters.
Now, as the book reveals, Gavel did not ultimately follow his intended career as a police dog, but he has certainly found his niche at Government House, greeting and charming our thousands of visitors each year.
It is particularly appropriate that the subject of the book is one of the many canine companions who serve the Queensland community every day as guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs, detection dogs or in support of our armed forces and police.
Thank you again for the invitation to join you this morning.
I look forward to meeting you all and wish you continued success in the vital work that you do on behalf of those who are blind or living with low vision.