National Disability Awards 2016

Speech Location:

Great Hall, Parliament House

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---Even though Karni Lidell is unable to make it, Jonathon it is wonderful to have you here to share this special event. Delephene thank you so much for your heartfelt welcome to country and I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

It is a very special night. Thank you so much; there are so many of you here to help us celebrate the great achievements. I would like to acknowledge many of my colleagues who are here this evening. We have wonderful bipartisan support in this portfolio and I would like to invite my colleagues, even the senators, to stand up so we can recognise those of you who were able to join us. I can see Karen Andrews, Jason Wood, and Jenny Macklin – big round of applause – Cathy O’Toole and Carol Brown from Tasmania; I was down there on the weekend. It’s wonderful to have you all here and please if you have got one of my colleagues at your table make them feel very welcome because I can tell you they have given up so many invitations tonight to join us so thank you all very much.

I want to also thank the judging panel, because as I look through the finalists I can assure you it was a very hard decision to pick one winner out of so many finalists.

Talking about finalists, I note the winner from last year of the Lesley Hall Leadership Award has been able to join us – Keran Howe. And Keran it is great to have you here tonight and more especially because earlier today we announced the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council. Keran has agreed to co-chair that with me which means she is going to do all the work. It is wonderful to have this Advisory Council going forward because whilst the NDIS is addressing those 460,000 people with significant and permanent disability we still have another 4.2 million Australians living with disability and we are looking forward to our Advisory Council reinvigorating the National Disability Strategy to make sure we get the right outcomes for those people.

Also I would like to thank many of you representing the sector, great advocates and I was saying earlier tonight that I have now been to every state and territory and had stakeholder meetings. I’ve been to regional visits around the country and I actually think that I have met a lot of people here this evening. It is great to see familiar faces and I agree I haven’t resolved every issue that you have raised with me but we are working through them and it is great you could be here tonight. Because as Jonathan says - 10 years - and when you think about it not just 10 years of winners but 10 years of finalists  and every one of those finalist and every one of those people who have nominated are making a difference in the disability sector and I want to thank them for what they have done. When you think of 10 years – it really is having an impact on the disability sector. I want to thank everyone for their contribution over the 10 years.

What a great anniversary this year for Jonathon, aka ‘choirboy’ for the 10th year of the Choir of Hard Knocks because of course the Choir of Hard Knocks has done a celebratory circuit and I was fortunate to see them perform in Brisbane, and  I understand Jonathon you have even been to Carnegie Hall.  So absolutely spectacular achievement, but once again we are making a difference and that’s what tonight is about.

I was talking to Karni Lidell earlier this evening and she is terribly disappointed she cannot join us. For those of you who don’t know she is expecting and she’s well on the way to producing a mini Karni Lidell so I think that probably her priorities are right. So I thought at this point Jonathon I might throw to a message from Karni because she did ask me to pass on her best wishes for this evening.