DSA Patron on WDSD 2018

His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

World Down Syndrome Day Wednesday, 21 March 2018 Governor General

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, and to elders from other communities who may be with us today.

  • Mr Angus Graham (Chairman, Down Syndrome Australia) members and supporters of Down Syndrome Australia
  • The Honourable Jane Prentice MP (Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services; Member for Ryan, Queensland) Federal members and Senators
  • Families with us today
  • Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen 

Good morning on World Down Syndrome Day.

Today we celebrate the lives and achievements of more than 13,000 Australians with Down Syndrome.

We celebrate the many different ways you contribute to your families, your community and the lives of others.

We celebrate that having Down Syndrome is not, and should never be, a barrier:

  • To leading a full life.
  • To being valued and respected.
  • To contributing to our nation.
  • To being involved in your communities — going to school, volunteering, working, and living independently.

Like everybody, people with Down Syndrome are part of Australia, part of who we are.

Is there more to be done? Certainly.

Inclusion and acceptance, for people with Down Syndrome, is always an ongoing process.

One of the biggest barriers to participation in our community for people with Down syndrome is low expectations.

That is why we have days like this.

It’s why Down Syndrome Australia has shared 21 stories over 21 days of people with Down Syndrome contributing to their communities in different ways.

It is also why Down Syndrome Australia is producing toolkits for clubs, workplaces and community organisations to provide advice and encouragement on how to welcome and involve people with Down Syndrome.

It’s why we have the Down Syndrome Advisory Network, to give people with Down Syndrome a voice, to understand their views and to put their ideas into practice.

Real and meaningful progress continues to be made. The days of institutionalisation are over.

We have begun to tackle low expectations, limited opportunities and barriers to participation.

  • The focus now is to keep making progress:
  • To improve quality of life.
  • To challenge community attitudes about intellectual disabilities.
  • To enable people with Down Syndrome to be even more involved in the daily life of the nation.

World Down Syndrome Day is part of this process.

It draws attention to the lives, rights and aspirations of all those with Down Syndrome.

Today every Australian is reminded of what you bring to our nation and that your lives and dreams are as important as any.

Thank you, enjoy today, this is your day to show what you bring to your community.



You can download His Excellency's speech in PDF here. 

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