The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Mahatma Gandhi
I have been involved in a number of organisations committed to raising awareness of issues relating to people with disabilities. My involvement with these organisations has included leading discussions and workshops as well as preparing press releases and engaging in media interviews. My involvement with some of these organisations has been as follows: –
∙ As President of the Far North Queensland Independent Living Support Association (FNQILSA), I have developed extensive knowledge regarding the provision of accommodation support for people with disabilities. Prior to 1 July 1997 all government funded accommodation support in the Cairns area had been administered either by church run organisations or by the Endeavour Foundation. However, following extensive discussions with the Department of Families, Youth and Community Care, service providers and consumers, the FNQILSA was launched on 8 July 1997. FNQILSA consists of a management committee comprising of several people with disabilities, their carers and family members. It represents an exciting initiative in creating a consumer driven organisation, which gives people with disabilities more control over an important part of their life. My role with this organisation has been very satisfying, and has provided me with valuable experience.
∙ As the Queensland Network Officer of the Australian Quadriplegic Association (AQA), I developed a thorough understanding of a wide range of services required by people with physical disabilities. AQA is committed to a holistic approach to rehabilitation, which encompasses the emotional, social and vocational rehabilitation of people. The Association promotes a continuing and vigorous campaign of publicity and advocacy focused on the rights, dignity, and independence of the individual. This involves the provision of services ranging from employment assistance, supported accommodation, and public transport requirements. In 1999 I stood for the board of AQA, and became the first Director elected outside of New South Wales.
∙ As a member of Outright Independence and Queensland Advocacy Incorporated, I developed an understanding of the needs of people with intellectual disabilities, as well as the role of advocacy, and the need to respect the rights of people with intellectual disabilities to chart their own destiny. I also developed an understanding of other important issues such as de-institutionalisation.
∙ My role as a representative on the Physical Disability Council of Queensland and as a Queensland representative of the Physical Disability Council of Australia has involved my participation on a peak body responsible for advancing issues relevant to people with physical disabilities. I have developed a more in-depth knowledge in my portfolio areas which are; Employment/Education/Training, Attendant Care/Accommodation /Housing, and Transport/Taxis/Parking Permits.