Video transcript

Last updated: 31 May 2016

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The Australian Public Service Commissioner talks about his personal experience with disability.

A number of people today have been willing to talk about their own personal experiences and I thank them for that and admire them for doing it.

I'd also like to today share my own personal experience which will help to explain why myself and the Australian Public Service Commission is very committed to the Strategy.

Twenty-two years ago in 1994 one of our children passed away at Calvary Hospital. Ruth was 16 years old and had cerebral palsy. She never spoke and never walked, so as a parent I've travelled the whole journey. From the despair and the worry of finding out the prognosis after about one year, the elation at small wins, the despair at many reversals, 40 admissions to hospital, and 5 near death experiences then finally watching her pass away.

This taught you a lot about life, I found that you, acquired a deep understanding of the mysteries, the meaning and the sanctity of life and also of course you had an enormous amount of support from friends and helpers, who, were very kind and, made a great contribution to help Ruth and us through difficult periods.

And then like a lot of public servants, some years after, after all that, I decided to, offer some work back to the community, so I've been on the board of a number of organisations, the Cerebral Palsy Association in Western Australia, it's now the Brand Institute, Hartley Life Care here in Canberra and also Scope in Victoria. All of those bodies are private non-government outfits dedicated to help people with intellectual disability.

And of course when you do those sorts of jobs it's a privilege because you meet so many outstanding Australians. People who are the clients themselves and their carers dealing with enormous challenges everyday often with fantastic spirit, the staff who dedicate their careers to helping people with intellectual or other impairments and of course the volunteers, these organisations can't work without extraordinary Australians who step up and volunteer to help in so many ways.

So that's my story, its personal, but it does, I think, underline why I will be very committed to the Strategy and will ensure that the APSC gives it its full support, Ruth would expect nothing less of us. Thank you.