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2012 Attitude Awards - Speech

Hon Tariana Turia
Minister for Disability Issues

29 November 2012

2012 Attitude Awards

Viaduct Events Centre, Auckland

The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine

Australian Human Rights Commissioner; Graeme Innes

David Rutherford; Human Rights Commissioner

Paralympians; Award Finalists, Distinguished guests; family and friends.

Yesterday the red carpet was laid out in Wellington. But tonight, here at the Viaduct Events Centre, we have our own extravaganza of excellence – a room filled with superstars, with champions; with heroes and trail-blazers.

I want to firstly acknowledge all those possible for making our Sunday mornings magical. Attitude Pictures consistently represents the experiences of people with disabilities in a way which engages the public; educating, inspiring and challenging us all in the space of thirty minutes.

It is an outstanding initiative and I want to congratulate you for the difference you are making in the great sea of public opinion.

This event builds on your precedent, in creating a Gala Awards Night to celebrate achievement and recognise the diversity of people who are working towards a more inclusive society.

I absolutely endorse the intention of these awards, to raise awareness, and to create a new norm by putting focus on the achievements and triumphs of the one in five New Zealanders who live with a disability.

Tonight I have been given the honour of announcing the inaugural Attitudes Awards Trust Communications Scholarship.

This is an exciting example of collaboration, in which a major media company is offering a one year work contract; with a view to increasing the numbers of people with disabilities active in the communications professions including the media.

We all know that an increase in disabled people who are visible in the media will help promote an attitude change amongst the wider community.

This will have huge spinoffs regarding the employment of disabled people; as well have challenging any negative attitudes and behaviours that may still be lingering.

I am totally committed towards doing what I can as Minister, to enable people with disabilities to lead fuller, more independent lives.

And in this respect, I am so proud to acknowledge the scholarship sponsor, the Attitude Awards Trust and its trustees, and to speak briefly about the very first person to win this scholarship.

Olivia Shivas has always wanted to be a reporter; based on her belief that people with disabilities are not represented well in the mainstream media.

Olivia’s pathway to this night has been built upon hundreds of big moments and thousands of small ones. She has demonstrated leadership and success in her schooling; she is a Queens Award recipient; a StarJam Jambassador and now a student of the Bachelor of Communication studies at AUT.

But there is one story in particular, that really made her shine.

Earlier this year, in her role in the Velvet Vocals – a workshop run by StarJam – she came up with a big idea. All the girls in the Velvet Vocals listen to Taylor Swift and sing her songs. So when Olivia found out the superstar herself was coming to town, she got cracking.

She filmed a video of the group; edited it, and sent it off to Taylor Swift’s managers. After many weeks they received a reply – Miss Swift would like to meet the Velvet Vocals in person.

Olivia’s words told me everything about having the right attitude. She said

“Having a disability, I sometimes become so used to being the one that needs help. Whether it’s reaching something on a high shelf or getting help to push myself up a steel hill. And sometimes I do get embarrassed by it. What I got most out of a being a leader that was that I was the one helping someone else. Someone needed my help and expertise. It was incredibly rewarding knowing that my help and leadership achieved our goal of meeting Taylor Swift”.

It was such a wonderful glimpse into the life of a young woman – not yet twenty- and yet capable of gaining an audience with a celebrity; fulfilling a project goal to the last degree; and inspiring, motivating and including the wider group at every stage of the experience.

I know that Olivia will go on to make a profound difference in all our lives. She oozes oomph; she exudes passion and determination and I wish her a most brilliant career.

Tēnā tātou katoa


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