Page 3970 - Week 09 - Thursday, 25 August 2011

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Hearing Awareness Week

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (5.54): Yesterday I stood in this place and spoke about the importance of the annual Hearing Awareness Week and also the visit I made yesterday to the expo organised by the ACT Deafness Resource Centre. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that the former minister for disability, Mr Hargreaves, interjected saying, “Well, that explains why you are speaking loudly.” It is worth noting that the current minister for disability, Ms Burch, had a good laugh at this remark.

Madam Assistant Speaker, I certainly considered Mr Hargreaves’s comment in extremely bad taste. It is not a joke, yet it is another example from a sacked minister that demonstrates a total lack of judgement and respect. It is little wonder that the Chief Minister has chosen to run with only four ministers rather than bring this man back into the cabinet. I call on Mr Hargreaves to apologise for this deplorable remark and in future show more respect to the hearing impaired in our community.

I also spoke yesterday about a meeting I attended at the invitation of the Cranleigh P&C association and the email I received that summarised their many concerns. I am also indebted to the president of the P&C, Anne Dunstan, for her attaching to her email a story by Emily Perly Kingsley entitled “Welcome to Holland”, which basically sums up what life is like when you discover you have a child with special needs. I found it very moving and would like to share the story with my colleagues in the Assembly.

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability—to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience.

To understand it, to imagine how it would feel, it’s like this …

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a wonderful vacation to Italy. You get a bunch of guide books and make all your plans. The Colosseum, Michelangelo’s David, the gondolas of Venice. You get a book of handy phrases and learn to say a few words in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

Finally, the time comes for your trip. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says: “Welcome to Holland”.

“Holland?!!?”, you say. “Holland? I signed up for Italy. All my life, I’ve dreamt of going to Italy!!”

“I’m sorry”, she says. “There’s been a change and we’ve landed in Holland”.

“But I don’t know anything about Holland!! I never thought of going to Holland!! I have no idea what goes on in Holland!!”

What’s important to remember is that you haven’t landed in a terrible, ugly place full of famine, pestilence and disease. It’s just a different place.

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