Page 60 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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Evidence and experience show that removing barriers to inclusion empowers people with disability and allows them to participate fully in our community, which benefits all of us. The Chief Minister’s inclusion awards exemplify this and reflect the ACT government’s commitment to social inclusion for everyone. These awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people with and without disabilities, and organisations and businesses in our community that demonstrate a commitment to creating a more inclusive Canberra.

As you would be aware, Madam Speaker, this year’s awards were held on 1 December at the National Museum. It was a fantastic event, and I am sure the Chief Minister was sorry that he missed it. I was proud to represent him; it was my finest day. There were over 52 nominations across 11 categories, including individuals, schools, small businesses, large employers and community organisations.

I was particularly pleased to present the emerging young leaders award to Grace West. Grace’s advice for young people is: “If you can imagine it, you can do it.” It is this wisdom, combined with her zest to overcome obstacles, that sets her apart. She is Canberra’s youth ambassador for the Royal Society for the Blind and campaigns for people with vision impairment. Grace is currently planning a career working with children, while simultaneously having her eyes set on becoming a Paralympian in rowing. Grace is a true leader and an example for all young people.

The ACT Chief Minister’s award for excellence was awarded to David Williams. David has volunteered for over two decades mentoring young people with Down syndrome and intellectual disability to help them find their voice through public speaking.

All award winners stood out for their leadership and innovative approach to including people with disability in our community, and for showing us that small changes can make a big difference.

MS CODY: Minister, in your speech at the inclusion awards you formally launched the Office for Disability. What will the office do?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Cody for her supplementary question. As I mentioned earlier, the ACT has led the way in the transition to the national disability insurance scheme as the first jurisdiction to sign up. We will be the first jurisdiction in Australia to see all eligible residents accepted into the scheme.

With the completion of the NDIS trial in the ACT, people with disabilities now have greater choice and control over what services they can access to support them in their daily lives. The full rollout of the NDIS in the ACT will be completed in the first half of 2017. But the NDIS does not answer every question for people with disability in our community.

That is why the ACT government is staying in the business of supporting people with disability and making sure they are included and engaged in every aspect of life in our city. That is why we have established the Office for Disability, which I launched at

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