Wednesday, 15 August 2018
Riding for the Disabled Ballarat
Last week, it was my pleasure to join in the celebrations for Riding for the Disabled Ballarat's 40th birthday. For 40 years, RDA has brought joy and relief to people with disabilities in Ballarat and their families. When RDA began in Ballarat, Australia and the world was a very different place. In 1978, Ballarat was about 40,000 people smaller and, perhaps most importantly, the way in which our community treated, helped and cared for those with disabilities was very different. It was only in 1998 that the Disability Discrimination Act came into effect, finally enshrining the rights of those with disabilities into law. While there is much still to do, our community as a whole is more accepting, understanding and caring of those who have differing ability levels and who face additional challenges in their lives.
Throughout all of this period of change, both in the disability sector and in the wider world, RDA has been a constant in the Ballarat community landscape. For 40 years, RDA and their dedicated team of volunteers have provided a vital service to the community, allowing everyone to experience the joy and therapeutic benefits of horse based activities. RDA's motto is 'developing ability and enriching lives,' and no group that I know could have fulfilled these lofty goals any better than the RDA in Ballarat over those years. This ability to help others has only grown in recent years, with the move to a wonderful new facility at the equestrian centre. I remember well, back in 2010 when we were working to find funding for the organisation, that the dedication and hard work of everyone at RDA really did help to make the case. With that same commitment, the move to the new site could not have been more of a success.
Throughout all of the past 40 years, there has been one common thread—and that, of course, is the volunteers who make RDA Ballarat possible. In particular, I want to acknowledge in this place the work of four volunteers: Diedre Giles, Camille Rice, Joyce Williams and Pat Fisken, who have been there from the start. Thanks must also go to the Rinaldi family, who have generously allowed the use of their horses for RDA for the past 40 years without accepting a cent in exchange. Without the tireless work of these dedicated volunteers and many others who have come and gone over the years, RDA would not have been able to help so many people in our community. I know that when I thank them for their work—and of course, the lovely Bob Bath, who is their president, for his leadership and dedication—I speak on behalf of the many, many families in my community who RDA Ballarat's generosity has touched over the past 40 years.