House debates

Monday, 14 July 2014

Statements by Members

Innes, Mr Graeme, Disability Discrimination Commissioner

4:14 pm

Photo of Melissa ParkeMelissa Parke (Fremantle, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the very important and substantial contribution that Graeme Innes made through his work as the Disability Discrimination Commissioner. As a full-time commissioner with lived experience of disability, Graeme has been a powerful advocate for change and a successful advocate, not least because he helped formulate the policies and programs necessary for reform and because he never hesitated to join the fight in battles that needed to be won. In Graeme's own words from a piece he wrote for TheGuardian:

I have never accepted the concept of "lifters" and "leaners", a Ming dynasty phrase which has lately gained currency. It's such a facile concept, and we all move from one role to another dozens of times a day.

…   …   …   

I prefer a more positive, and less judgemental society, where everyone's contribution is accepted and valued. I want entrances where everyone, not just people who use steps, can come in. I communicate with Auslan, so everyone, not just hearing people, can understand. This makes for a more inclusive, and more sustainable society.

But many in society force people with disabilities to live within that leaner-lifter rubric. And we would be lifters, if there were not barriers in society which cause us to be leaners. I have challenged it all my life, and will do so in this, my last address.

Graeme Innes has made an enormous positive difference to social inclusion in Australia. I thank him for his leadership, his indefatigable effort, his dignity, his courage and his optimism. I know he will continue to play a role in leading reform to improve the lives of people with disability.

I also wish Susan Ryan well in the big task ahead of carrying out the disability discrimination role in addition to her existing role as Age Discrimination Commissioner. (Time expired)