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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1835

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (09:30): Last week in Canberra the National Disability Awards were held to recognise the contributions that people have made to improve the lives of people with disability. There were more than 200 nominations received across nine categories for the awards. I am pleased to acknowledge today that one of my local constituents, John Moxon, was awarded the Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement in Disability. When I heard that, quite frankly, I thought: 'Of course. I'm surprised that anyone else bothered to nominate or the selection process even had to take place.'

John is one of those people in the community that is known by many for his extraordinary work in the community. I know him along with Margaret Tucker as two balls of energy in the Parramatta seniors. They are always there. They are always running courses. They are getting people involved and they do an extraordinary job. It is not surprising that when John decided to turn his attention to support for people with disability he did so with extraordinary energy and enthusiasm.

He did not just decide that; he was actually thrust into that world when at the age of 31 he was in an accident and became a quadriplegic—a man with a wife and three children—and, unexpectedly, his life took a different turn. Thirty years ago there were far fewer services than there are now. There was no support in the home. There was virtually no access to public transport. Ramps were few and far between.

In some ways, things are a lot better now—although I know a man in his 40s in Lalor Park who, when the state government finally put the lifts in at Seven Hills station, went to the city for the first time in 20 years; it was the first time in 20 years he had actually been able to get in there independently—but you can imagine what they were like 30 years ago.

So John set about advocating for the needs of people with disabilities. He worked tirelessly for the disability allowance. He was president of the Physical Disability Council of New South Wales and he was instrumental in bringing together a wide range of consumer and service provider organisations to develop joint policies for people with disabilities.

This is a man who quite literally over his life has made an extraordinary contribution to improving the lives of others. He is an absolutely obvious choice for anyone who knows him, and I congratulate him on what is a recognition of his work.