Media Release by The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Disability leadership program welcomes 40 new participants

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Amanda Rishworth, today congratulated 40 people selected to take part in a Gillard Government leadership program for people with disability.

Ms Rishworth said the 40 participantsfrom across the country make up the fifth intake of the successful $3 million Leaders for Tomorrow program, which begins for them today with a two-day retreat in Sydney’s Rydges World Tower.

“The Gillard Government’s Leaders for Tomorrow initiativeis a 12-month program which supports people with disability to develop their leadership skills,” Ms Rishworth said.

“This important program is tailored according to each participant’s leadership aspirations to help committed and talented Australians achieve their leadership goals.

“By linking participants with appropriate training, support and mentoring, Leaders for Tomorrow helps participants overcome barriers to work and education so they can become leaders in their chosen field.

“As well as our 40 new starters, I want to congratulate two current participants of the program who are attending the Retreat this week to graduate and help inspire our new intake.

“Daniel Michel, one of the graduates, entered the program as a high school student and bocce enthusiast. Since starting the program, he has successfully competed in a number of bocce competitions, winning gold at the Victorian State Titles, and silver in both the NSW State Titles, and National Titles.

“Being interviewed by media at the National Titles about his future endeavours and his passion for bocce gave him a great opportunity to exercise his public speaking skills, one of the goals he identified when he came into Leaders for Tomorrow.

“Our other graduate, Marie Hatch, works as a Leading Hand at Challenge Disability Services in Narrabri. Since starting the program, she has completed a raft of training and new qualifications including a Senior First Aid Certificate, Certificate I in Waste Management, a Workplace Health and Safety Certificate, and public speaking training. She is currently enrolled in a Certificate III in Disability.

“The Leaders for Tomorrow program enables participants like Marie and Daniel to develop the skills and confidence to hone their skills and become leaders in business, the community and government.”

Ms Rishworth said the Australian Government strongly believes people with disability have the right to participate fully in the social and economic life of our community.

“People with disability, and their families, know best what they want for their own future and the supports they need now and in the future to achieve those goals,” Ms Rishworth said.

“DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme, will give people with disability more choice and control over the care and support they receive and the certainty that they will get the support they need.

“We want every Australian, including people with disability, to achieve their best in life, to develop skills and gain experience, and to have the confidence to dream big and believe in themselves.

“Over the life of this important Gillard Government initiative, over 200 people with disability will complete the program, with many going on to undertake further training and pursue their dreams. I wish each and every one of the graduates all the very best as they go on to be leaders in their communities and to inspire others around them”.

Leaders for Tomorrow is part of the Australian Government’s $11 million accessibility package to expand opportunities for people with disability and their carers under the National Disability Strategy.

The Strategy outlines a ten-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens. The Strategy aims to bring about positive change in the design and delivery of all mainstream and disability-specific services and programs, as well as community infrastructure.