Page 4724 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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remember the men, women and 146 children who drowned on that day and the tragedy that it was with the loss of more than 255 lives. As we reflect on that, I think it is sad to say that we have not seen much progress in terms of refugee policy. We still have the major parties using it as a political issue instead of taking an approach which looks at the issue of refugees, human rights and the circumstances in which people come.

Ms Le Couteur spoke on the ninth anniversary of the SIEV X and I would like to read from her speech. She said:

We are talking about some of the most vulnerable and persecuted people on our planet. Asylum seekers coming to Australia are overwhelmingly people who have a genuine fear of persecution. They have suffered the kind of torture and trauma that no-one should have to go through. They are also people that show extraordinary courage. And they come to Australia to seek our protection—protection from a country that is supposed to be a beacon of human rights. It is protection they deserve.

We need to remember that on this sort of occasion. The SIEV X and the Tampa situation were two events which very much led to me getting actively involved in politics again. When they occur, they are the sorts of things where to stand by and see them happen makes you want to get out, get involved in politics and put forward a different view which shows that refugees should be supported along with their circumstances.

Special Olympics ACT

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (6.27): As many Canberrans know from their own experience, sporting activities provide great health benefits. They build social and team skills and above all are lots of fun. Participation in sporting activity should be open to all people, and Special Olympics ACT is one organisation that helps people participate.

Special Olympics has broken down the barriers to participation by developing a sporting program that meets the needs of athletes with intellectual disabilities and their families. Last Friday I played bocce with athletes from the Special Olympics. Have you ever played bocce, Mr Speaker? I have played a few times in various parks around Canberra, but I learnt last Friday that you can also play bocce on a building site. I also learnt that these athletes from the Special Olympics are highly skilled bocce players—and that I need more practice.

Of course Special Olympics does support more than bocce. I am pleased that this year the ACT government has been able to provide $18,000 to develop and grow the popular swimming and cricket programs. I also know that Special Olympics ACT offers 11 official sports ranging from basketball and gymnastics to sailing and tenpin bowling. All athletes have the opportunity to advance from local competition through to national and international events.

Like so many community sporting organisations, Special Olympics ACT relies heavily on its network of volunteers and corporate sponsors. Last Friday I was pleased

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