International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (11:51): I just want to make a short contribution with regard to this motion:

That this house recognises 3 December as the International Day of People with Disability and celebrates the achievements of those with a disability and recognises the contribution they make to our communities.

The International Day of People with Disability has been celebrated annually around the world since 1992. It is important that we acknowledge this day and join in those celebrations recognising the achievements of those with a disability and the contribution they make to our communities. I welcome this year's theme, 'Achieving 17 goals for the future we want'. The theme reflects the adoption of 17 sustainable development goals to address the three dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, economic and social) and form a key part of the United Nations' global development agenda.

Closer to home, it is an opportunity to reflect not only on the contribution that those South Australians living with a disability make to our community but also on the support we provide those living with a disability to ensure that they are able to participate in, and make a wonderful contribution to, our society. Unfortunately, when we reflect, at times it is not a particularly good record when it comes to supporting those with a disability. The state government continues to fail to meet the community needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and disability representation in South Australia is quite poor. Of course, we all know about the lack of disability services in so many key areas.

Organisations representing disabled persons receive little to no government funding. A quick look at the unmet needs data illustrates the frightening neglect of those living with a disability in this state, with services lacking in disability respite care and disability accommodation, especially for younger people with a disability, who are regularly placed in aged-care facilities as there is not enough supported accommodation available to them. People in this house will know that I have a particular interest in epilepsy. It is a key disability that affects many South Australians. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a person with a disability as someone who has:

…a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months and restricts everyday activities.

Epilepsy is a disabling condition. Federally, the Department of Social Services recognises epilepsy as a disability when it cannot be controlled with medication. Across Australia, epilepsy is recognised as a disability in every state bar one: our own state. Sadly, for those living with epilepsy in South Australia, our state Labor government is the only state government in Australia that does not recognise epilepsy as a disability.

Epilepsy can be debilitating. There can be regular seizures, sleepless nights and the inability to work full time, to care for themselves or their children, and an eternal fear of the unknown. Every part of your life and that of your family is impacted when you are living with epilepsy. I have previously raised the importance of recognising epilepsy as a disability. If we were to recognise it as a disability in South Australia, it would give those living with epilepsy access to additional support services through the NDIS, access that would provide considerable relief, especially to families with schoolage children who live with chronic epilepsy. The lack of support from the South Australian Labor government is felt every single moment in the lives of those living with epilepsy and their families.

I urge the state government to do more for people living with epilepsy and for the more than 20 per cent of South Australians who indicate that they have a disability. This government's record in protecting and championing our most vulnerable members of society has been very poor. South Australians should not have to wait another 18 months before that can all change; I would like to see the government step up to the plate now and recognise epilepsy as a disability and ensure that our disability services in South Australia are adequately funded. I strongly encourage the Minister for Disabilities to take urgent action to address the endemic failings of the disability services in this state.

Finally, on a lighter note, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate all our Paralympic athletes, in particular those who competed at the Rio Paralympics this year. Their persistence, dedication and ability to overcome adversity is a testament to their character and a wonderful example for us all.

I had the pleasure of attending the welcome home parade for our Paralympians from Rio, celebrating the achievements of these outstanding athletes. I was fortunate to meet with Brayden Davidson, our gold medallist in the long jump, and young Liam Bekric, who competed at his first Olympic Games at the age of just 15. They are both truly remarkable young men. I wish all those participating community events, including tomorrow's Disability Pride Parade, an enjoyable celebration.