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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 6755


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (21:35): I pay tribute to a fine man and a wonderful educator who has been a fantastic advocate for the rights of young people with disability in the Ipswich area, Peter Davis. Peter is the former Principal of Ipswich Special School. He trained as a teacher in primary education and worked at Palm Island and Acacia Ridge. It was there he developed a passion for students who had become marginalised and had special needs. He undertook further study in the teaching of students with intellectual impairment and taught at Windsor and Kingaroy in special education settings located on primary school campuses.

Peter and his wife, Mary, have both spent their professional lives working in the field of special education, contributing substantially to the field at both state and national level. From 1980 Peter held the principal's position in a number of special schools around Queensland, with the last 22 years at Ipswich Special School, where he advocated tirelessly for students in his care. Peter's contribution is a truly remarkable one. When he first became the Principal of Ipswich Special School there were 10 staff. In 2011 around 100 staff are involved in supporting students, including advisory visiting teachers, therapists, nurses and other support professionals involved in outreach programs throughout the region. Peter has been a mentor to many schoolteachers. His contribution to special education in Queensland is unparalleled. Peter believes that every child, no matter what their level of ability, deserves a quality education, and he has devoted his professional life to this goal. Assisting technologies is a particular area of interest for Peter, and he has invested considerable time, energy and budget to make these available to his students. Assisting technologies allow young people who are restricted to moving their leg or head, for example, to put data into a computer.

Peter's former deputy, Andrew Thompson, is now the principal of Ipswich West Special School. He was present at the retirement function, as was Steven Leese, a mate of mine for many years and a mentor to so many people in special education in Ipswich. Barry Welch, the Queensland Teachers Union Organiser, also paid tribute to Peter's advocacy for the disadvantaged, his support for teachers and his strong support for the rights of teachers at work. Peter, in his retirement speech, lauded the $200 million More Support for Students with Disabilities initiative of this government. This crucial initiative, with new funding, will benefit students, teachers and their families through new services and equipment and an adaptive curriculum to advise expert-designed training to support children with disability.

Peter has been a fantastic advocate for children with disability. For a long time he has advocated for a hydrotherapy pool at Ipswich Special School. It is our privilege, under the BER, to deliver $850,000 and a great honour for me as the federal member for Blair to have delivered it to make sure that children with disability get a hydrotherapy pool at Ipswich Special School. There is also $36,111 for the upgrade of ramps to ensure wheelchair access and $88,890 for the refurbishment of two classrooms in block A.

Peter was recently recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list with a Public Service Medal for his outstanding public service to education in Queensland, particularly in the area of special education. This year marks Peter's retirement. On 11 June I had the honour of speaking at Peter's retirement function at Brookwater Golf and Country Club. It is a great time for Peter to retire and to have realised a dream he has worked so long and so hard for—to finally have a hydrotherapy pool for so many young people at Ipswich Special School. I have actually been there in classrooms to hear the delight about what it will do for young people in that school.

To be recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours for a lifetime of significant and tireless advocacy for students with a disability is a wonderful credit to Peter. As the federal member for Blair it has been my privilege to have known his wonderful teaching at the school and to see the love and affection he shows for the young people. During his speech, Peter remarked on the willingness of the federal Labor government to commit to social justice and social equity. He said that as soon as the federal Labor government came to power, things happened quickly in special education. After so many years of inertia, federal Labor was prepared to deliver for students with disability and for Ipswich Special School. In many ways, Peter Davis has made Ipswich Special School, and he helped to make Ipswich special by his contribution to the young people of Ipswich. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): As there is no other member standing, I will call the honourable member for Sturt, who has spoken before. He is entitled to speak again, and as no other honourable member on either side of the chamber has stood, the honourable member for Sturt has the call.