House debates

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Statements by Members

Disability Services

1:57 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I received an email today, and I want to share it with the House. It goes: 'When you are a parent with a child with a disability, you have your heart broken on a regular basis not because of their disability but because of the way they are treated by other people. Today isn't any different. To hear one of our parliamentarians argue that kids with a disability do not belong in mainstream classes does not shock me but it does break my heart all over again. It does not matter how many times it has happened before, I feel the knife twist again because what the senator is saying is that our clever, funny, naughty, spunky kid doesn't deserve a good education, that she doesn't deserve the same opportunities as other kids, that she is lesser, not worthy, not really one of us.

'We have three kids. The idea that we should accept less for one than for the other two is not something we are prepared to accept—no parent would. So, while we may be heartbroken, we are also angry. And we are worried—perpetually and endlessly worried—who will fight in her corner when we are no longer around. But this is not our about us; it is about her. The think that the senator will never understand is that our daughter knows. She knows how you feel about her. She might have an intellectual disability, but she can tell. She can read you, feel you. And, while my heart breaks, so does hers.'