Motions: International Day of People with Disability

Wednesday November 13, 2019

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (12:04): I rise to support the member for Hurtle Vale's motion:

That this house—

(a) recognises International Day of People with Disability on 3 December; and

(b) acknowledges the important social and economic contribution South Australians living with a disability provide when sufficiently supported to participate and engage in society.

To have a full and active life involves more than just education, employment and access to services and facilities, although we all agree these are very, very important. Social inclusion is often put at the end of a long list of needs; however, social isolation is something experienced by many people with disability.

You cannot underestimate the power of sport when it comes to developing a range of life skills: teamwork, cooperation, the challenges of handling disappointment and defeat, and working towards a common goal as a team. Sport is also a great stress reliever and helps develop self-esteem, independence and self-worth. In my electorate of Mount Gambier, there are people who work very hard to improve the access and participation of people with disability in sporting and recreational activities. They do not do it for publicity or awards and most of the time the only payment is a smile and a thankyou.

In regional communities, sport is an institution, a huge part of life. In Mount Gambier, the Tigers Netball Club has been running for nearly 30 years and, like many sporting organisations, it has been run solely by volunteers. It is a team that specifically caters for people with disabilities to play sport, engage with other people and compete against other regional teams. Danielle Burford stepped in to run the team 14 years ago not because she had a child with a disability but because she saw the benefits the team was having on other players. With a social work background, Danielle and other local volunteers got the club incorporated and helped apply for funding for uniforms and a trailer.

Whether you have a physical, neurological or intellectual disability, you are welcome at the Tigers. There are no criteria; it is for all abilities. Some players are on the spectrum, have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or play with a walking frame. Danielle says the best thing for her is watching the players support each other and how they cheer each other on. The players like travelling away to carnivals, getting away from routine and getting to know people from other teams. Most importantly, they all enjoy being part of something.

Danielle says she gets more pleasure out of it than the players and says the team has become part of her life, so much so that she even invited all of them to her own wedding. After her own two children were born, Danielle had to take a step back to concentrate on her own family. Like all volunteer-run organisations, they are struggling to find people with the right skill set to take on roles so the team can continue.

The Commercial League is another long-running local team that welcomes players of all abilities. Every Wednesday night, around 50 bowlers take over the lanes of Mount Gambier's only tenpin bowling alley in a competition that has been running for more than 20 years. For those who have not watched, it has quite an atmosphere. Joyce Cleggett has been keeping the league going for 14 years by sorting out teams, collecting money, organising presentation nights and keeping it all flowing smoothly. Her oldest son Keith, who has Down syndrome, has been playing the game for 15 years.

Joyce says the main objective is just to have fun and have a bit of friendly competition. The players are of all skills and abilities but on the lanes all are equal. Earlier this year, the league faced a major challenge—the potential loss of their venue after it was shut down unexpectedly. Joyce says that the players were upset and for 10 weeks nobody got to bowl, and the social value of the team in people's lives became very apparent. Luckily, the venue was taken over and reopened and the team was able to play again.

You only have to look at events such as the Paralympics and the Invictus Games to see how much of an impact sport can have on the lives of those participating. This year, Paralympian Kurt Fearnley is the patron for International Day of People with Disability, and he wants to use the role as a launching pad for further action. He says:

People with disability are entitled to the same respect, independence and choice as others and we need to talk honestly about the barriers in society and work together to break them down.

Teams like the Tigers and Commercial League are great examples of people working together at a local level to break down barriers. I would like to take this opportunity to give credit to Danielle, Joyce and all those people in our community who take the time to organise these team events and make a difference in the lives of people living with a disability. With that, I commend the motion to the house.