I am pleased to rise this afternoon to speak about a wonderful event I attended last week on behalf of Minister Burch, the launch of phase 2 of Involve—Canberra’s disability commitment.
Canberra is a proud human rights jurisdiction committed to implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the CRPD, and the national disability strategy 2010-2020. The CRPD and the national disability strategy demand us to take action to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of the rights and freedoms of all people with disability.
We have consulted with people with disability and the community and they have told us to aim high and become a world leader in social and economic participation for people with a disability. People told us we need to acknowledge the contribution made by people with a disability, put people with a disability at the centre of decision-making about their lives and shift the emphasis from barriers and exclusion to shared responsibility, opportunities and action.
With that in mind, on behalf of the minister, I launched the second stage of Involve last Friday to connect people who have an ambition to make the world better in big ways or small. Involve highlights how our community can work together to create a place where all people with disability are included and supported. It is a great initiative that seeks to engage all Canberrans to include people with disability and support them to make their dreams a reality.
Fundamentally, Involve is a movement of people with and without disability, community organisations, industry and government acting together to achieve change that empowers people with disability. It is a space for people to come together and connect, support one another and generate ideas for an inclusive community. Through the web platform at www.involvecbr.com.au, people with disability can connect online with people from our community who have the skills, knowledge or creative ideas to support them in achieving their ambition.
Groups of people can get in on the action too and create a community ambition that will benefit the broader community. When you have people supporting you, anything is possible. The personal ambitions that have so far been outlined through Involve are admirable. They cover personal achievements as well as aspirations for the broader community. There was an artist looking for opportunities to exhibit, a business leader asking landlords to think differently about renting options, and a community leader seeking to educate retailers about access.
Five ambitions are being trialled and are now online. People can connect with the five individuals and find out ways to support their ambitions and follow their progress. On Friday I was thrilled to join Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, who has taken the lead by contracting Donkey Wash, a social enterprise run by Sam Agyemang, to highlight the sorts of outcomes we want to see with Involve. Sam, who has autism, runs a laundry service for clients, including the Canberra Raiders, and said the Raiders are his favourite client.
It was great to chat with Ricky, Sam and Sam’s mum, Kate, about everything Sam has achieved, and he is only 17. He now has a plan for what he will do once he finishes school, and he gets to do something that he loves and takes enormous pride in. Not many year 10 students can say the same. Plus he is helping organisations like the Canberra Raiders to run efficiently and connect with their community. Indeed, Ricky said his team had never been cleaner, thanks to Sam’s Donkey Wash laundry service.
Sam has an industrial size washing machine at home and a handful of clients who keep him busy. Kate says he is very on top of the pick-up and drop-off schedule and loves the work and camaraderie he gets out of it.
This really goes to show that inclusion does not have to be difficult. There are opportunities all over our city to make connections; you just need to know where to look. That is why Involve is so important. It will help Canberra be a more inclusive community where everyone can participate and reach their full potential. I understand the ACT government is planning to open up the Involve online platform towards the end of this year to allow more Canberrans with disability to post their personal ambitions online.
I would like to sincerely thank the minister for this opportunity and to thank Sam, Kate, Ricky and the Raiders for their help in launching Involve. I thank also the Community Services Directorate staff for their hard work getting this wonderful initiative up and running. I look forward to watching it grow over the coming months.