You are here

Able Australia - Community Projects

1 November 2017

Ms DAWKINS (Bass) - Mr Speaker, I rise tonight to talk about Able 
Australia and a couple of community projects that are happening and will 
happen in Launceston in the next couple of weeks. Able Australia has been 
in Australia for 50 years and was born of a desire for parents of children 
who were deaf and blind or suffering the effects of rubella to find more 
community connection. Of course 50 years ago there wasn't the 
understanding that there is today that people who need additional support 
in the community might be able to lead a life of community connection that 
is creative, interesting and challenging. Able Australia have managed to 
move with that time over the last 50 years.

All over Australia now there are some 4000 employees. They have only been 
in Launceston since 2006 but have really made their mark. I was 
privileged to be at a dance workshop performance last Saturday where 
Stompin Youth dance company, Able Australia and Able Australia carers put 
on an integrated dance project. It was one of the most phenomenal things 
I have ever seen. There were not a lot of people in the crowd. There 
were eight dancers from Able, their carers, and Caitlyn and Gabe Comeford 
from Stompin. They put on a performance that showed how the dancers had 
integrated with the Able performers over the last nine weeks of workshops. 
There was a duo between a young guy with Down syndrome and a Stompin 
dancer that was one of the most eloquent articulations of being close to 
somebody I have ever seen.

I have watched a lot of contemporary dance in my life. It is one of my 
absolutely favourite art practices and I tell you there was not a dry eye 
in the house, and nor should there have been, because the intimacy that 
was portrayed in those few moments crossed all boundaries of ability, of 
practice, of experience and it spoke to the heart of every person in that 
room. 

I give my heartfelt congratulations to Stompin and Able Australia for 
taking the initiative to make a truly integrated dance performance, not 
one in which the dancers were going to teach people who needed additional 
support how to dance, but one in which people learn from each other. 
Isn't that the way all art should be? 

I also point out that the next project Able is embarking upon is a young 
adult's program, the Community Kitchen Cocktail Reception, on 16 November 
at the Inveresk Tavern. The Inveresk Tavern has done the most phenomenal 
job of setting themselves aside and apart in our community for putting on 
something that is really precious. It was a pub in an area that was not 
doing very well and competing with other hotels that also were not doing 
very well, so they looked around and thought, 'What can we do that is 
different?' and they opened their kitchen to people from a diverse range 
of backgrounds. 

This is the first time Able Australia will be putting on a cooking 
performance there, but every Sunday you will find people from all over 
Launceston, people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and they are able 
to share their food from their culture in a welcoming, friendly way. They 
are able to break down the barriers that some in small communities such as 
Launceston might have with the fear of 'the other', and food is the very 
best way I know to do that. Over the past year Charlie at the Inveresk 
Tavern has opened his doors for the wider community to do that. I am very 
much looking forward to that next collaboration with Able Australia.

I pay special tribute to Angus Kidd from Launceston, a person who has 
grown up in the agricultural sector and was expected to take over the 
family farm and do that for the rest of his days. He broke that mould and 
went to work in the disability sector because he wanted to do something 
that meant a lot to him. He danced last Saturday with the Stompin group 
and the Able Australia participants. This week he was awarded the Debbie 
Pryor national award for his outstanding hard work and commitment to Able 
Australia. I say hats off to Angus Kidd. Anybody at that stage of life 
who is able to make that transition into a new workspace and a place that 
has meaningful work for you and top that off with a dance performance 
deserves an award.