WONDERLAND SYDNEY FUN DAY
(Londonderry) [6.15 p.m.]: Tonight I bring to the attention of this House an event that took place on Thursday 2 September. Three hundred and fifty special needs children from my electorate were invited by the management of Australia’s Wonderland - Sydney’s Wonderland as it is now called - to a fun day at the park. Last year I had the privilege of organising a similar function, which was an outstanding success. However, this year I did not expect the number of people who turned up for the same event. Last year the manager of public relations at Sydney’s Wonderland said, "If you have a number of special needs children in your area, come as guests to Wonderland and have the day on us." We did. One hundred and thirty-nine young people and 68 carers spent the day at Wonderland. That same offer was extended this year.
Special schools within my electorate were asked to inform me whether they would be attending and, lo and behold, 350 young people wanted to attend and 118 carers volunteered to attend as they got word of the wonderful time we had last year. The day was an outstanding success and the children had a wonderful time. The management of Wonderland provided entertainment by way of a variety show - Humphrey B. Bear’s picnic. One of the things that concerned a number of people at the picnic was the fact that only half the kids turned up. People were sent to look for the children.
These special needs kids, some of them profoundly disabled, were on all the rides that were available. They were having such a great time that they did not want to come off the rides and attend lunch, which was also provided by the management of Wonderland. We place restrictions on special needs children and say, "They should not be on that ride", or "They should not get involved in that sort of activity." The kids showed us on that day what they were capable of. They were certainly capable of having a wonderful, exciting and adventurous time. Tonight I offer my congratulations and thanks to the management of Wonderland, in particular, Stephen Galbraith, the General Manager, and Mrs Barbara Magee, the Public Relations Manager, who initially extended the invitation.
I appreciate the initiative of Australia’s Wonderland in inviting the children back next year. They have not put a cap on the number of children who are invited. We can bring as many children as we want and they will all be made welcome. Australia’s Wonderland is showing our special children that it cares about the wellbeing of children and about them having fun. I offer my congratulations to all people concerned at Australia’s Wonderland and to my own staff who gave up their time to arrange the adventure and to spend time with the children.
(Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training) [6.20 p.m.]: I compliment the honourable member for Londonderry on having been instrumental in getting disabled children to Australia’s Wonderland. I congratulate him and his staff on their work, and Australia’s Wonderland on its generosity in providing its extensive facilities for the enjoyment of the children. The honourable member for Londonderry is a member of Parliament with a difference. His activities go far beyond merely representing his constituency, in that he also takes on a number of causes, many of which are of a humanitarian nature. I know he puts in a lot more hours than would be expected of any local member of Parliament working on projects aimed at improving the lot of various sectors of his community who may be deemed to be underprivileged in some way.
I know of the strong commitment of the honourable member for Londonderry to the disabled within his electorate through his representations to me as Minister for Education and Training on behalf of a number of special schools. Indeed, over the past term of Government the honourable member for Londonderry and I worked co-operatively together to provide facilities to Kurrambee school, located in his former electorate of St Marys. Australia’s Wonderland is a very important feature of western Sydney and indeed of the Sydney entertainment arena. It provides world-class entertainment. Despite being a big undertaking, it has a heart. I congratulate the managers and operators of Australia’s Wonderland on their generosity to disabled children. I sincerely trust that that generosity will be recognised and applauded.