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03 October 2022






BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS: Hey, good morning, Team Victoria, Can we hear from you?

Launceston's never going to be the same after you arrive there. I'd like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we meet. I pay my respects to Elders past and present. I thank Uncle Perry for his kind and generous words.

I'd like to acknowledge all of you in particular, and starting with the leadership of the Special Olympics nationally with Pierre and Cameron, the state executive and leadership, all of the coaches and volunteers.

I'd like to acknowledge the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is a fabulous institution, and I know all the people who participate in it just really get a special buzz from moments like today.

And in particular, I want to acknowledge Team Victoria. You're going to do very well. I've been coming to Special Olympics events now for about 15 years, and every time I come I learn a bit more about a whole lot of things. But one of the things that I've always seen from Special Olympics events is they're actually moments of real joy and happiness. And that's what I think the Special Olympics is all about.

I think to when I read about parents and Special Olympians who did their first event in 1977 around Kew cottages, and I look at how far it's come to being here today on this mighty sort of stadium of sport. But for me, what you do isn't just about yourselves.

I mean, I love sport. You make friends. You learn skills. You learn teamwork and how to operate in a team. You develop confidence, you develop independence, and you develop fitness. That's all great. But for me, when I see you, I actually see a lot of other Australians, people with disability and their families and carers and people who work with them.

The reason why I like Special Olympics is in many ways summed up by their own logo. You know, we've got if you notice in the logo, there's the hands arm pointing down, then there's the arms straight and then there's the arms up in the logo. You can see it. And what I like is that the reason why there's arms pointing down is to recognise that people who have intellectual disability are sometimes a bit invisible. People are unaware of them. That's why the arms are down, they're unaware, and then you see the arms out straight and that's you, that's experience, that's outreach. It's including. And then you see the arms that are up and that's just joy and happiness.

So I love Special Olympics. And what I want to do is, as the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is that that didn't exist when I came to your first games in the act that I saw in 2008. And now that exists.

And I just want to say that for a week in Launceston, all of Australia is going to get to see you.

The arms will be up, they'll see the joy and for a week people aren't going to ask what is the person's disability? They're going to see an athlete having fun and they're going to see the whole person and you're not going to be invisible, you're going to be loved. You're going to be welcome, you're going to be respected, you're just going to have fun.

And what I want to do is take some of that spirit of that week in Launceston and try and make it every day of the year because you're special anyway, it's great that you're coming on the Big V and that's fantastic. But you are so special every day and what you do is for everyone who's not competing on a team, all your other friends who mightn't be in the Special Olympics Victorian team going to the National Games, but you are also making them visible and you're getting people who don't know about disability to reimagine what they don't know.

I love the motto of the Special Olympics too, let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt. You win, you're brave, and I'm going to come down to Launceston to watch you do well for Victoria. Don't give any other state any quarter!