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Media Release by The Hon Sussan Ley MP

Celebrating the Abilities of People with a Disability

A Canberra bushfires’ burn survivor, a government lawyer, a school vice captain, artists, dancers and an Indigenous radio announcer feature in the Australian Government’s 2005 calendar celebrating the abilities of the one in five Australians with a disability.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services, Sussan Ley, said the Government was proud to endorse the 10th annual Disability Calendar as part of its $9 billion a year funding to support people with disabilities and their carers.

Mrs Ley launched the 2005 calendar Ability – Celebrating the lives of people with disabilities and a Government-funded Teachers Resource Kit for more than 11,500 primary and secondary schools on the eve of the International Day of People with a Disability (3 December).

“About 20 per cent of the Australian population – or one in five people – experience disability in their daily lives and about 2.6 million people are caring for or supporting a person with a disability,” Mrs Ley said.

“It is often said that people with disabilities are more likely to be adversely affected by the barriers they face and society’s attitudes than by the disability itself.

“International Day really gives us the chance to break down those barriers and to challenge people’s perceptions of disability. As the theme for the day suggests, we should all say loud and clear – let’s recognise and celebrate people’s abilities.”

Mrs Ley said the International Day would be celebrated across the nation with events ranging from surfing, cricket, and a festival in Geelong, Victoria, to a fancy dress day and a Friday night disco in Palmyra in Perth, Western Australia.

Details of the events can be obtained from the website of the Government-funded community organisation, NICAN, at NICAN website (www.nican.com.au). NICAN also produces various resources to assist in planning activities for 3 December and to promote the Day – including posters, brochures, lapel pins, stickers and temporary tattoos.

“The 2005 Disability Calendar offers glimpses into the everyday lives of some very determined, talented and vibrant Australians with disabilities.

“The tremendous abilities of Australians with a disability were also highlighted earlier this year at the Paralympics in Athens when our national team won 100 medals and came second only to China in the total medals tally.

“Not ever person with a disability is – or wants to be – an elite athlete but every person with a disability wants to be respected as a person and recognised for what they can do – rather than what they can not.