Moonlight Speakers Event Launch

Speech to Moonlight Speakers Event Launch at the Sky Deck
December 14, 2016

Thanks for inviting me to say a few words.

I would like to congratulate the partnership of EY and CBS for bringing a positive, creative idea to fruition.  Congratulations to the Moonlight Speakers and MCs, there’s a bright future ahead for each of you!

My experience in politics has been that most of the time if you can put your case to the right person you can effect some change.

Now that’s not to say it’s all beer and skittles down at Parliament House, because it is not, but I think that on the whole, my dealings with Ministers continue to bring positive results for the public.

Leadership, to me, is about responsibility and connection.  It is not simply a one-directional thing, because at times I think even great leaders need to be followers.

They need to know how and when to step back into the shadows to give others the opportunity to shine.

I am a great believer in collaborating with others, and this creates the opportunity to share leadership.

And these days, of course, the ways we communicate are myriad – but as an example it’s important to go back to basics and practice the art of listening, and really working on honing communication skills.

In what I think I can describe as playing to the gifts of my own personality, I find it a great strength to employ an empathetic approach in my interactions with others.

And as far as leading a team goes, well you can expect all the inevitable ups and downs of human existence over a period of time, and coming an empathetic standpoint gives people the reassurance and acknowledgement that we are always united in our humanity.

Valuing diversity has to be much more than “box ticking” – because unless we can move beyond a tokenistic engagement with people from diverse backgrounds, we risk falling into the trap of only using them as examples to fulfil our own needs.

I would like to encourage you to see leadership as a journey, rather than a destination.

Leadership is evolving as you continue to study and work, form relationships, travel and who knows what else over the coming years.

By seeing the opportunities to develop responsibility in your own life you can naturally take the next steps towards that leadership responsibility in the community.

There is a wise saying that: “you can’t be what you can’t see” and I think that there are many levels of dysfunction in our community that sadly mean that positive role models are lacking in some people’s lives.

When it comes to my own situation, I hope that young people with and without disabilities – whatever their politics may be – will see that fulfilling the role as an elected member of parliament is something that they, too, can do.

In every sense, I exist in my current position as a member of parliament to ensure that we get the paradigm shift both within government and the broader community that results in a deep understanding of what it does… and does not mean to live with a disability, it’s about breaking down those attitudinal barriers.

Even with the best will in the world, many people do not respect the rights of people with disabilities.

The personal is political, I think there are three keys to getting it right: “fairness, innovation, and respect”.

Fairness, because we all deserve a fair go.

Innovation, because we need to find the synergy of creative solutions,

And respect, because it doesn’t matter whether or not you can help someone, showing them respect means we can all hold our heads high.

Whether we are leading or following, it is through our personal actions that we will create a positive future for South Australia.