Kelly Vincent’s maiden speech: Dignity 4 Disability not a “single-issue party”

Kelly Vincent has now taken her place in the South Australian parliament. The House scrambled to provide accessibility, with a newly constructed desk and ramps. The House itself now has a different geography due to the presence of one person. May there be many more!

This from her maiden speech impressed me, and will need further cogitation:

Perhaps what I have just said will give you a little insight into why I am set back a little when people try to suggest that Dignity for Disability is a ‘single issue’ party– because disability knows no boundaries. It crosses transport, education, social inclusion, access, and discrimination, for a start.

Anyone who needs proof of the wide reach of disability need only look up at the galleries of this chamber and behold all of the special guests who have graced us with their society and audience today. I sincerely thank them all for this. It is a true honour. Disability affects people of all ages, races, genders, classes and religions, in very different ways. And this should be a source of joy and celebration, just as much as it is seen as a difficulty.

“Single-issue” perhaps needs to go the way of “Don’t bother us with your niche little problems.”

Categories: arts & entertainment

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8 replies

  1. Right on. Seems ridiculous that it’s taken this long for someone to say that in such a forum.

  2. Stunning photo of Vincent too.

  3. She sounds like a thoughtful and passionate advocate – I hope she continues in this vein!

  4. Lauredhel, I’m sorry to nitpick, these days they’re referred to as inaugural or first speeches in Parliaments. And you’re right, it was quite a respectable one.
    Joy is a point well-made.
    As to the Chamber geography it’s a difficult question; full respect should go to the LC for putting in a crossbench desk, but it’ll be far more difficult a problem when there’s a member in a wheelchair in the Government or Opposition benches or more difficult still in the frontbench or shadow frontbench. They’ve done very well, but the colonial Parliaments simply aren’t designed to accomodate twentieth and twenty-first centuries’ ways of living. Every State’s going to have to look at serious, expensive renovation, likely at the expense of the heritage of the Chambers—I know in NSW we’d have no hope of matching SA at the moment.

  5. Liam: I was consciously using the language used at Dignity 4 Disability’s homepage (linked from the two photographs), which I therefore assumed was Vincent’s own self-identification.
    I’m hoping the renovation gets done before someone needs it and everyone flies into a panic. Heritage is no excuse for inaccessibility: creative minds can, given a bit of time, repurpose the existing gear in there in an accessible renovation that retains the flavour and history.

  6. Two pictures worth two thousand words.

  7. Same argument re historic preservation has been used in NYC to fight having to spend money for wheelchair access…In the end, it can be done creatively and let us, the segregated, IN.

  8. It is good to see a disability advocate in Parliament, and her speech seems good, too. It is sad though that the Parliament accessibility had to be created specifically for her, since it ought to have been accessible all along. By the way, your point on “single-issue” parties is right, although I’m myself guilty of using the word sometimes, too.

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