Word Down Syndrome Day


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (12:56): I am very pleased to speak on this motion acknowledging the continuing work of the Down Syndrome Society of South Australia and Down Syndrome International on the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day. I do so for three primary reasons. As shadow disability minister for a period of time, I particularly appreciated the engagements and interactions I had with the Down Syndrome Society of South Australia. I know they work very hard to deliver services and assistance to children with Down syndrome as well as families of children with Down syndrome and, indeed, adults with Down syndrome. They provide services and effective advocacy on behalf of that group.

Secondly, having staff in my employment who have been family members of children with Down syndrome has brought to my attention (not having any family members with Down syndrome) the challenges that can be faced, and they are itemised succinctly by Down Syndrome International, which particularly drew attention to the challenges that children and adults with Down syndrome often face, as follows: being abandoned, subjected to abuse and segregated from their communities; being discriminated against and treated unequally in education systems; being discriminated against and having health conditions misdiagnosed by health systems; limited opportunities to live independently, work and be fully included in the community; a lack of control over the right to marry and have relationships and families; and limited opportunities to vote, participate in public advocacy or be elected to public office.

Sometimes I think there are some people who, unfortunately, through carelessness, perhaps, do not even refer to children and adults with Down syndrome as people first—as children or as adults—but just talk about the issue of Down syndrome itself. I have enjoyed meeting and knowing the children and adults with Down syndrome whom I have encountered, and I think on World Down Syndrome Day the challenges they face are worth reflecting on in our positions here. I commend the mover of the motion for bringing it to the attention of the house and I am sure that all members will join us in supporting this motion right now.