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Opening of disabled games Parramatta

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20 NOVEMBER 1979



The Far East and South Pacific Games for the disabled is not only an important sporting occasion, but also a very fine example of the goodwill that exists betxveen people in the Asian and Pacific region.

I take this opportunity to warmly welcome our Asian and Pacific friends to Australia. I hope you enjoy your stay in Australia, and that old friendships will be renewed and new ones made.

These Games, which I am Sure will be keenly contested during the week, are a reminder of how governments and community organisations can work together.

The Commonwealth Government, the State Government and two local councils in particular have each played a part in helping to stage these games. But above that, it is the voluntary help and assistance of community associations

that provide the life and drive on an occasion such as this, and demonstrate the real meaning of care and concern.

There are many areas where government services can never match the service which voluntary groups can provide. Many people are most in need of warm and understanding advice on -how to cope best with a complex society. Large

institutions cannot always provide this understanding. It is the person-to-person contact, the work of volunteers who have a genuine feeling and commitment to other people that becomes the backbone of a caring country.

Money can help. Money is essential. But our society is not going to be changed for the better simply by spending more and more money. So many of the problems which concern us are problems principally of human relations, and that is true whether we are speaking of poverty, of discrimination, or

of assisting the disabled.

We are all here today to enjoy the fruits of what this kind of sports competition can bring. We are here to savour friendship and good fellowship. At the same time I think we can understand the importance that sport and recreation

play in the rehabilitation process.

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The Government’s recreation officers work to help disabled people get full benefit and enjoyment from facilities and programmes. And we are encouraging the design and development

of community recreation facilities which cater for all Australians, including the disabled.

We hope this example will encourage other governments and private companies to develop similar standards of building design. After all, why shouldn’t the disabled have at least the same recreation opportunities as anyone else? Recreation

is an important part of modern life. But there is no doubt that recreation is especially relevant to the social and psychological well-being of the disabled. It certainly provides relaxation, personal enjoyment, social contact and a means of improving personal abilities and skills. But perhaps more important, recreation - and the kind of recreation that these games exemplify - does help to break down man-made barriers of body and mind.

Mr Chairman, these Games are a powerful demonstration of the most noble human characteristics - courage, determination, pride, self-improvement and above all, dignity. They represent the very best in human society.

To see the enthusiasm and indefatigable spirit of the competitors and organisers is a humbling experience. It is a timely reminder, in these hectic political days, of how men and women can work together in a totally unselfish way for the highest human goals.

Mr Chairman, may I wish the competitors, officials and the many helpers a most successful and rewarding Games. You all deserve nothing else.

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