Congratulating Emerge Graduates of 2015


On Tuesday the 8th of December Shayne attended the 2015 Emerge graduation, representing the Minister for Disabilities, the Hon. John Ajaka.

Emerge is a nine month leadership program designed to develop leadership capacity and experience in young adults with cerebral palsy. In Sydney this program partners staff from the Commonwealth Bank with young adults from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Each participant is matched to a personal coach for a year who assists them to identify and build on their strengths. The program aims to build confidence and familiarity in the business environment, and develop a network of professionals and friends. Click here to read Shayne's speech and find out more about Emerge.

Thank you for that generous introduction and let me start by saying it’s a great honour to be here with you tonight representing the Honourable John Ajaka MLC, Minister for Disability Services.

I would also like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today, and pay my respects to their Elders, both past and present.

I also wish to acknowledge the following distinguished guests at today’s special event:

  • Mr Bryan Fitzgerald, Executive General Manager, Chief Executive Officer and Group Executive Positioning, Commonwealth Bank
  • Mr Rob White, Chief Executive Officer, Cerebral Palsy Alliance
  • Mr Paul Henderson, Chief Operating Officer, Cerebral Palsy Alliance
  • Ms Genevieve Clay-Smith, NSW 2015 Young Australian of the Year
  • the Emerge mentors and mentees.

I am delighted to be here with you this evening to help celebrate the achievements of graduates from Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s wonderful and inspiring Emerge Young Leaders Mentoring Program.

I congratulate the Cerebral Palsy Alliance for developing this nine-month leadership and work readiness program,  which involves matching young adults with cerebral palsy with a volunteer staff member from the Commonwealth Bank.

And what a great commitment that is by the staff volunteers and the Commonwealth Bank who are also the sponsors of this program and of course tonight’s event.  Thank you for your ongoing ethical and socially responsible leadership in corporate Australia.

We can all imagine what fabulous relationships must develop over that nine-month period!

Assisted by their personal coaches, the young people identify and build on their strengths, build confidence and familiarity in the business environment, and develop a network of professionals and friends.

I congratulate the CommBank for its ongoing support for this outstanding program which inspires and develops the young participants’ leadership capabilities so they have the confidence, and emotional and social wellbeing to realise their full potential.

The first Emerge program was in 2009, and over the years many young people have benefitted from the program, including our nine young graduates with us this evening.

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance is one of the largest and one of the most highly regarded disability charities in the State.

The NSW Government is proud to support your exceptional efforts to ensure people with disability lead lives which are as full and rich as possible.

And now for a little advertisement of what our government has been doing to assist you:

In 2015/16, the NSW Government will provide more than $46 million to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to help the organisation deliver a range of disability services across the State including:

  • accommodation
  • respite
  • attendant care
  • family support and early intervention
  • therapy, and
  • community engagement including transition to work and active ageing.

Last financial year, the NSW Government provided $480,000 to help support Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s amazing Life Labs pilot project.

For those who may not know, Life Labs are enterprises that ‘hot-house’ the development of technology-based products and solutions for people with disability. Another remarkable undertaking by this remarkable organisation.

This year, the NSW Government has also provided a $25,000 grant to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, through the NSW Community Building Partnership, to build an accessible playground and car park at the organisation’s facility in Prairiewood. I’m sure every assistance no matter how big or small counts.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s commitment to placing the person, and their needs and aspirations, at the very centre of the design and delivery of services.

I congratulate you for developing systems to deliver individualised funding and providing self-directed supports.

The NSW Government is proud to have partnered with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in providing flexible, person-centred programs under programs like Stronger Together Two, Ready Together and Living Life My Way.

With the imminent and exciting transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, I have no doubt that, given your organisation’s outstanding long term record, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance will be a provider of choice.

If I can indulge for a minute about myself.  Most of you wouldn’t know me.

Just like our young Emerge graduates, I too have been the fortunate beneficiary of excellent and inspiring mentors throughout my journey to my current role as a member of the NSW Legislative Council.

Without doubt, like many of you, my parents were and remain my primary inspiration and guiding force. They instilled in my brother and sisters, and me, the values of community service, hard work and enterprise, personal worth and values, importantly acceptance of diversity and the worth of all people and lucky for me family love.

From the earliest age, my parents taught me the most important lesson of all – never to judge other people for their differences. This basic principle has guided me throughout my life – both personal and professional.

As the eldest of four children, I spent my early years in public housing in Penrith and I am a proud graduate of our State education system.

Through the hard work of both my parents and support from the extended family, our family managed to transition from public housing and become home owners, eventually living in Penrith.

Our family and our community were proudly independent, one where we helped each other out, where we lent a hand to neighbours and worked together to improve our lives, whether that was supporting our parents to work long hours in two jobs and finance our first home, or going to school on weekends to build playgrounds and gardens, or mow playing fields.

On life’s journey I have immersed myself in various aspects of public service whether that is through the school, local church or community service organisations.

That transitioned to engagement with local government where I served 12 years on the South Sydney City Council and City of Sydney Council where you really valued the role of diversity and community organisations.

I was fortunate to meet some amazing mentors and leaders along the way that have greatly influenced who I am and where I am today.

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share some of the story of my leadership journey with you, but tonight is the Emerge graduates’ night.

I congratulate you all on your commitment to developing your own leadership skills and striving to reach your full potential, and I again thank your CommBank coaches for walking alongside you on this latest leg of your life journey.

You are an inspiration to us all.

Tonight I look forward to hearing about your leadership journeys which, in the future, I hope will include that you have taken your rightful places on our government benches and in our Board rooms

Thank you.