WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (10:13): I want to take the opportunity today to talk about a very important issue in my local area. Yesterday, as many of my colleagues would know, was World Autism Awareness Day. It's a day when, normally, I'm able to be in the electorate and participate in some really important activities to show how our community value the people with autism in our community, including making sure they get the support, education and opportunities that they are entitled to, and to extend that appreciation and support to their families. There's a great program in which we light up the lighthouse on the headland in Wollongong in blue. That certainly happened, and I extend my congratulations to everybody involved in that project. It's a great visual reminder of the importance of people with autism.

On the weekend, I joined my state colleagues, Paul Scully and Ryan Park, at a 'liftathon'. This involved a fabulous local fellow who wanted to support the Aspect autism school in our area.

He was actually lifting weights and he did it for nearly the whole day, up to, I think, a 1,000 kilos in total in short rounds. It was impressive to watch. I was very pleased, to be honest, that my role along with my state colleagues was to make a donation! Some of the trainers there were trying to talk me into doing weightlifting. But he did a really impressive effort on behalf of the school and raised over $5,000 for the school, which was a great outcome. It's a tremendous school. I'm sure many colleagues have Aspect autism schools in their area and know what great work they do. So congratulations to Andrew Webb on his weightlifting effort.

I also really want to acknowledge the Woonona Shamrocks rugby team, who were there with a sausage sizzle also raising money for the efforts. These were some really great outcomes.

Finally, I also want to acknowledge that yesterday I would have been at the Corrimal Chamber of Commerce's launch of their program to make Corrimal an autism-friendly town. There are some great businesses coming on board under the great leadership of Paul Boltwood in the Corrimal Chamber of Commerce, looking at ways that they can make sure that Corrimal as a town and particularly the shops and businesses in the business centre are able to look at programs and initiatives that mean that they're an autism-friendly space. And so there are some wonderful local initiatives that are really important for World Autism Day yesterday, and I just want to extend the fact that I would have been there to support them, but I support them in this place.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.