Paying tribute to a disability champion

SENATOR JAN MCLUCAS Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers SHARON BIRD MP Member for Cunningham STEPHEN JONES MP Member for Throsby

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today paid tribute to long serving Chief Executive Officer of Greenacres Disability Services, Neil Preston OAM.

At Greenacres today, Senator McLucas joined Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird and Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones in a surprise celebration for Mr Preston to thank him for his service to the disability sector.

“Neil is an accomplished CEO, he is a recipient of an Order of Australia, he has been a contributor to our country’s public policy; he has many hats and a long list of achievements that have made a difference to the lives of people with disability,” Senator McLucas said.

“Thank you Neil, for your relentless energy and commitment, for defending the rights and well being of people with a disability, for delivering real change in our community. Your knowledge of the sector has informed many government decisions.”

Ms Bird said that under Neil’s leadership, Greenacres had grown from having 205 service users, operating 6 services from 6 sites when he commenced in 1996, to now working with 950 people with disability providing 18 services from 16 sites in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions.

“Neil is an accomplished, inspirational leader in our community. His work at Greenacres and his contribution to the disability sector is highly regarded and appreciated,” Ms Bird said.

“Greenacres is a great example of an inclusive supported employer,” Mr Jones said.

“Congratulations to Neil and the team at Greenacres on their continued commitment to improving the lives of people with disability in our community,” he said.

The Gillard Government is committed to supporting people with disability into work wherever they are able.

Senator McLucas said more than $210 million is being invested this financial year to around 600 businesses across Australia which offer supported employment to those people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to work.

“Australian Disability Enterprises give people with disability the chance to participate in work, to experience the sense of purpose and friendship a workplace can provide the chance to meet new friends, and to become more financially independent.”

The Australian Government is also working with an Advisory Group of disability sector representatives and employers to develop a ten year vision for supported employment in Australia