Page 2915 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 24 June 2009

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one of the very few disability sport organisations in the ACT. What sets VISACT apart is that it is responsible for sports for which there is no sighted equivalent, such as beepball, goalball and swish, which is blind table tennis. It is also responsible for modified sports such as blind cricket, blind golf and vision impaired tenpin bowling.

The ACT is one of the few jurisdictions in Australia where there are no sporting facilities set aside that cater for the needs of the blind and vision impaired. In other states there are dedicated sporting fields or indoor courts for blind sports and that are close to public transport. This has meant that indoor sports such as goalball and swish have not been held for some time. It has also meant that outdoor sports such as beepball and blind cricket have to compete for limited sporting space with larger and more established sports and pay for those facilities, when some of VISACT’s participants are already disadvantaged by the effect of blindness on employment opportunities. This is also compounded by the fact that some of these facilities are not close to the main bus corridors that this particular sector of the community relies on, as well as the fact that they need to play on Sundays.

I understand that VISACT has made this point at the 2008 and 2009 recreation summits, to the current review of the ACT disability sports inclusion framework, as well as in submissions to the consultation process for community recreation space in the ACT government’s closure of the old school sites in 2008.

I will be talking in more detail about VISACT when the Assembly resumes sittings after our current budget sittings and would appreciate the support of all our Assembly colleagues in recognising the work of this organisation which provides such a valuable service to the ACT community.

Baha’i leaders

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (6.10): I would like to speak today in support of the Baha’i community and the Baha’i leaders detained in Iran. The seven Baha’i leaders currently imprisoned in Iran face the anniversary of their arrest in May and are faced with new and extremely grave accusations after spending a year in jail without formal charges or access to their lawyer.

In the year since the group were jailed they have not had access to legal counsel and only minimal opportunity for brief, supervised visits with their loved ones. The group have been charged with a number of serious charges, including spying and propaganda, against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which the group strenuously deny. Some 14 weeks after an investigation against the group was originally reported as having been concluded, the families of the group have been informed that a new and deeply serious charge of “spreading corruption on earth” has now been levelled against the group and it carries the death penalty in the case of conviction.

This is the same accusation that was used against the Baha’i who were executed in the years immediately following the 1979 Islamic revolution. These arrests of the seven leaders and the most recent charges add to the denial of rights to the Baha’i community in Iran in many areas of society.

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