Page 4791 - Week 11 - Thursday, 20 October 2011

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Liz and I have shared similar interests for many years and I have often met her at community events around Canberra. Thanks to Emily, Liz is still attending these events. Liz has told me that once her family contacted Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, they came to visit her very quickly. This was important, because she still had a tiny amount of sight left that she could use when learning how to be mobile. Amongst her many other activities, Liz still works with the Salvation Army and is on the board of Common Gound, a social housing proposal for Canberra. Liz was particularly impressed that her cane and her lessons on mobility, including crossing roads, negotiating traffic and going shopping, were all given free of charge.

In this age of advanced technology, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is leading the trend towards using electronic aids to complement a cane in providing independent mobility. They offer talking GPS phone software and hand-held mini guides that act a bit like the reverse warning in a car, and of course they provide guide dogs. All these services are free of charge.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT have a vision—that is, vision loss will not limit independence. They believe early help enhances safety, and they are working to dispel the myth that people are only able to access their services once they are completely blind. So the message from my friend Liz that I am happy to repeat today is that people facing vision loss should ask for help early and access the training programs that are available. Then, like Liz, they will be able to lead the lives they want to lead.

Oceania Panhellenic Games

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (5.06): I have just got some very interesting information from the Greek Orthodox Community and the Church of Canberra and District. They are delighted at an announcement that they have been awarded the 5th Oceania Panhellenic Games for Canberra in 2013. The Oceania Panhellenic Games is an initiative of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, SAE Oceania. It brings together youth with Hellenic background and promotes the Greek civilisation and its cultural legacies to local society.

The announcement was made in Darwin at the conclusion of the recent 4th Oceania Panhellenic Games, which concluded on 2 October 2011. I spoke to Mr Jon Efkarpidis, who has just come back from the games, at the Woden soccer club’s presentation night; he was full of enthusiasm for the commitment of I think about 40 young people of Greek descent who played in various sports at the Oceania Panhellenic Games in Darwin just recently.

This is a biannual event which was previously held with great success in Sydney in 2005, Adelaide in 2007 and Melbourne in 2009, with participant youth of Greek background competing in a culturally rich environment and forging relations that promote Hellenism in Oceania. All the previous games have attracted strong support from government at local, state and federal levels. At the recent 2011 games held in Darwin, the Northern Territory government contributed substantially to assist in the running of the event, along with other corporate and private sponsors. As I understand it, the Greek Orthodox community will be seeking similar support from the Canberra community and possibly the ACT government.

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