Mr STUART AYRES (Penrith—Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, and Minister for Sport) [5.44 p.m.]: I speak this evening about the Penrith Disabilities Resource Centre [PDRC]. The PDRC began in 1988 in a small office space at the rear of the Emu Plains library. An advisory body comprising people with disabilities was also established to provide expertise on local issues. In May 1996 the PDRC moved to an accessible shopfront in Henry Street, Penrith where it remains today. In 1997 the advisory body became the Penrith Disabilities Action Forum, an official subcommittee of the PDRC. That subcommittee gives people with disability the support and advocacy they require to act on matters that affect them. The PDRC is headed by the compassionate and determined Denise Roberts, truly one of life’s lovely people. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with her since I have been a member of this House and she is a great advocate for the disability sector, together with the many others who work in that area. The PDRC, with its permanent staff and its 18 volunteer information officers, many of whom have a disability or care for someone with a disability, is able to offer a wealth of advice and can offer assistance in locating service options. I mention a member of Denise’s team, Murray Wilcockson. Murray was diagnosed as a child with congenital glaucoma. He underwent a number of surgeries and maintained approximately 25 per cent of his vision until the age of 10. However, due to illness, he had both eyes removed. In 2006 Murray applied for a guide dog and a suitable dog was found. That dog was Dawson. Murray and Dawson have been inseparable for the past nine years and are well-known around Penrith. Murray first became aware of the PDRC whilst attending the Penrith vision impaired group in 2003. He was asked to fill a vacancy on the management committee and in 2004 he was elected secretary of the PDRC before becoming president in 2005. An achievement that is particularly special to Murray was when he stepped up to run the PDRC when it was without a coordinator, a feat that he states he could not have achieved without the help of Michaela Frommel and Sarah Barns. During his time with the PDRC various committees and organisations have formed, such as the Penrith Disabilities Action Forum. Murray has been instrumental in achieving results for those with mobility issues, such as the upgrading of the taxi rank at Penrith railway station, safe road crossings and the construction of a footpath to assist a blind lady to navigate her way to the bus stop. I recall working very closely with Murray at the taxi rank at Penrith railway station, making it more accessible for people with disability.Although Murray has had many good times and wonderful experiences, he states that one of his happiest days was the day that Denise Roberts was appointed as coordinator of the PDRC. Murray announced his retirement from the PDRC at the end of last year. I congratulate him on his dedicated service over more than a decade. I also make mention of Darren Maroney. Darren is a regular friendly face who visits my office to deliver the PDRC’s “Readers Resource” magazine, along with other important information about events, services and activities that assist people in the electorate of Penrith. By educating and informing the community, and through its advocacy, the PDRC works to change the way people with disability are stereotyped. Denise and the team at PDRC inspire those around them to take the attitude that achievements can be made regardless of the problem at hand. Their tireless work is a credit to the Penrith community. They continue to improve the lives of people with disability and those of their families and carers. I emphasise how important this group is. Strong leadership is provided by Denise and Murray, who have been the heart and soul of the organisation for a long time. The resource centre has offered a helping hand and comforting conversation to many people over a number of years. It continues to advocate strongly for people with disability. It continues to work with service providers across the community in the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I am proud to represent these people. Long may the fantastic work of the resource centre continue to support people with disability, their families and their carers in the Penrith community.
PENRITH DISABILITIES RESOURCE CENTRE Speech taken from Stuart Ayers Website on the 6/4/16