Connections Showcase 2021 - 10. Crestwood High School - A Way Forward

Duration: 5:00

Transcript – Connections Showcase 2021 - 10. Crestwood High School - A Way Forward

[intro music]

TOMAS: Hello. Today, I'm going to help you find that little lost object we call hope. My name is Tomas and I'm an 18-year-old high school student living with a disability, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

I have long orange hair, white skin and green eyes. I live in Sydney's Greater West and attend Crestwood High School. In my little corner of the world, things look a little different. Can anybody here guess what question I receive the most as a person living with a disability? "How do you go to the bathroom?" I always answer with a rhetorical question, "How do you?"

It's questions like this which demonstrate we still have a long way to go when including those living with disability in all facets of our community, especially politics. 'A fair go.' Australia has always prided itself on its equality. We were one of the first countries to give men the right to vote regardless of race, class or past. We were one of the first countries to grant women this same right. We were one of the first countries to elect a woman to parliament.

This demonstrates the Australian spirit to give the less advantaged a fair go. This just proves Australians have always found it in themselves to give hope to others. You may ask, "Where do we go from here?" I would argue there's still one key area where this positive change is still desperately needed-- opportunities for people living with disability. We are the final piece of the puzzle for change.

Kurt Fearnley is an Australian wheelchair racer who was not expected to live more than a week due to his condition. Yet he has won 13 medals, 3 of those being gold at the Paralympics. Through his own resolution and dedication, Kurt finally succeeded in conquering the 96 kilometre-long Kokoda track-- not an easy feat for even the able-bodied.

In order to make it through the gruelling track, Kurt tirelessly retrained his body to move without his wheelchair. His dedication paid off when he became the first Australian living with a disability to crawl the Kokoda Track, proving that anybody can have a fair go. Kurt Fearnley is one of the many examples of Australians who have overcome all obstacles just from sheer hope, will and determination.

The process of change for equality has already begun. Senator Jordan Steele-John is a brilliant Australian Green spokesperson for disability rights and services, trade, youth, piece, disarmament and veteran affairs. He is also a man living with cerebral palsy. He openly shares his experiences of growing up with a disability in Australia and the story of how he gained office.

He has also highlighted the fact that there is an opportunity for those like him to serve the community in a meaningful way. There is an opportunity to give all a fair go. This brave act helped me find my hope as I aspire to become the first disability minister living with a disability. And who better to represent the needs and wants of people living with a disability than someone who lives with a disability themselves?

Through this speech today, I aim to inspire everyone to weild their hope, to achieve their dreams, notwithstanding their circumstances. It is important for our political leaders, regardless of their affiliation, to recognise the power of genuine representation for people living with disabilities. Until then, I will hold on to hope and strive to make this a reality. If my dream becomes an overdue reality, I will dedicate my life to help others like me find their hope. Thank you.

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