House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Electorate: Wallara Industries and Mentone Primary School

  Earlier this month I visited Wallara Industries, a business located in Keysborough in my electorate and which provides 97 jobs to people with a developmental or intellectual disability. Supported by an $800,000 federal government grant funded through the Disability Employment Assistance Program, Wallara Industries is assisting people with an intellectual or developmental disability to undertake productive and meaningful work. Phil Hayes-Brown, the very hard-working CEO, showed me around a supportive and social workplace giving people with disabilities the opportunity to grow through their work. When I visited Wallara I saw more than just people in jobs. I met workers who had never been employed before for whom Wallara Industries was the first employer that was willing to give them a go. The federal government is assisting in these efforts through the Disability Employment Assistance Program. I

Earlier this month I visited Wallara Industries, a business located in Keysborough in my electorate and which provides 97 jobs to people with a developmental or intellectual disability. Supported by an $800,000 federal government grant funded through the Disability Employment Assistance Program, Wallara Industries is assisting people with an intellectual or developmental disability to undertake productive and meaningful work. Phil Hayes-Brown, the very hard-working CEO, showed me around a supportive and social workplace giving people with disabilities the opportunity to grow through their work. When I visited Wallara I saw more than just people in jobs. I met workers who had never been employed before for whom Wallara Industries was the first employer that was willing to give them a go. The federal government is assisting in these efforts through the Disability Employment Assistance Program. I am proud to be a member of a government which has taken strong measures to improve the lives of disabled members of our community through this program, the Disability (Access to Premises—Buildings) standards, the coming disability insurance scheme and the National Disability Agreement. On the other side of my electorate, on Friday, 26 August, I participated in the Principal for a Day program at Mentone Primary School. It was a privilege to be invited to be the principal, if only for a day, and it gave me the opportunity to see firsthand the technological advances that are transforming primary schools and learning environments for the better. Technology has changed the way we teach and how we learn; adapting to the speed of change presents many challenges to students and teachers. I was pleased to see these challenges being embraced at Mentone Primary. I have had many opportunities to participate in the life of Mentone Primary, from visits to the school and meeting students in Canberra to participating in the school's 120th birthday celebrations in October 2009 and more recently—and on the day I was principal for a day—officially opening the school's senior school learning precinct which was funded by the federal government's Building the Education Revolution program.

Mentone Primary has plenty to be proud of. It has grown from a school of 135 children located in the school's original, single-storey, red brick building to a thriving school of 341 children in 2011. The BER program has been a great success at this school, as with all of the others in my electorate. The four new classrooms and open learning environment have revolutionised teaching practices, allowing teams of teachers and students to work together on targeted learning.

Together with parents and the community, teachers and principals have the privilege to encourage children to think and question, to strengthen their character, to shape behaviour, to foster individuality and to embrace cultural diversity. Each of these characteristics is present at Mentone Primary. I congratulate Chris Chant, Principal, on the success of the school's education program and thank him for allowing me to experience the day-to-day activities at his primary school. I wish to thank the teachers and students who warmly welcomed me into their classrooms. Mentone Primary is a great school.