Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (13:38): Last week I had the absolute pleasure of hosting Sophie Wallis, a 16-year-old from Woonona High School, in my office for a week of work experience. I have known Sophie for over 10 years now after her mum, Susan, and late sister Gracie campaigned strongly for the introduction of the NDIS with my predecessor, Sharon Bird. Affectionately called 'Amazing Grace', Gracie Wallis was born with a hypoxic brain injury and cerebral palsy. We unfortunately lost Gracie in 2018, but Sophie and Susan carry on advocating. It was only fitting that Sophie was in my office when we had the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme come to Wollongong. Sophie has prepared this speech:
On 23 November the Hon. Bill Shorten, Minister for the NDIS, spent the day in the Illawarra.
We began with the official opening of Hearing Australia's newest centre, and met Charlie and Frankie, two remarkable children who receive support from the Figtree centre and the Shepard Centre nearby. Thanks to the work of these organisations, children like Charlie and Frankie can access support to broaden their communication.
We followed with an NDIS Providers Forum, where we discussed ways to improve and provide more support to the Illawarra's disabled community, and Mr Shorten was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from Interchange Illawarra to thank him for his ongoing support.
We ended the day at Greenacres Disability Services, where we celebrated their 70th birthday.