House debates

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Statements by Members

Touched by Olivia

1:46 pm

Photo of Emma HusarEmma Husar (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I have the privilege of welcoming Touched by Olivia to parliament. I have spoken many times in this place about the important work they're doing, including in my own electorate of Lindsay.

Alex Coombs has come to parliament today and will speak at an event later about his experience of being included in play. Alex is from Western Sydney. He likes to do all the same things that other kids do, including those his sister enjoys. Alex has cerebral palsy. That means he uses a walking frame and sometimes a wheelchair. Today, his dad carried him in. Alex says that when he's at school and being included by his peers and teachers that it has helped him to learn to be confident and to make friends. These are goals that every single one of us has for our children. He feels let down when he's excluded and cannot go to play in a playground, in a neighbourhood, in his own community and make friends. Alex is amongst five million Australians who cannot play at their local playground because of their disability, and this kind of covert discrimination, where their needs are an oversight, is most keenly felt by children.

Alex is a champion of inclusion, and so are his parents, Brendon and Debbie, and his little sister, Marley. They don't just want inclusion for their son, they want it for all children. They live these values everyday through their support of Touched by Olivia. Today, the Parliamentary Friends of Accessibility and Inclusion will host Touched by Olivia and the amazing Coombs family. They are here to spread the word of inclusion and the endless possibilities that being included bring to the lives of those who for so long been have shut out of opportunities that many of us take for granted.

The aims of the NDIS to include people in our community are supported. However, we cannot have inclusion without infrastructure. The only things disabling people are the attitudes of those who should know better and the built environment that confines them.