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Thursday, 29 September 2022
Government House Sydney
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales

Bujari gamarruwa

Diyn Babana Gamarada Gadigal Ngura

In greeting you in the ‘Sydney language’ of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Traditional Owners of the land on which we gather, I pay my respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging.

I am delighted to welcome each of you to Government House, including the Member for Hughes, Jenny Ware, the Mayor of the ‘Shire”, Carmelo Pesce, Jeff McCarthy, Chair of the Sylvanvale Board, and the many members of staff, clients, and supporters.

This House is a place to be enjoyed by every member of our community, and we are especially pleased tonight that it is filled with the wonderful people from Sylvanvale as it celebrates its 75th anniversary.

It doesn’t take much gazing around to realise that this is a place of history and tradition. One important tradition is that the Governor has been Patron of Sylvanvale since 1970 and I have been honoured to continue that tradition.

Tonight is a celebration, but at its heart it is a statement about community. Over its 75 years, Sylvanvale has exemplified the power of community and the values that sustain not only a particular community but the community. Unless everyone in our community is supported as their particular needs require, the whole community is devalued. Why? Because it is the value of each individual as an individual that makes a community. It is not about them and us. Community is all of us. What makes a strong community is what those within it do for each other.

75 years and one day ago, a small group of parents formed an organisation to support each other and their children, whose education and inclusion was restricted because of their disabilities. From those small beginnings – and a playgroup organised shortly after in a church hall in Sutherland – big things have grown.

Today, Sylvanvale employs over 650 people, helping support and empower more than 750 children and adults.

In April this year, I had the honour of opening Sylvanvale’s state-of-the-art disability accommodation in Bangor, that in its architecture and facilities has captured Sylvanvale’s five core values: belonging, choice, safety, respect, and contribution.

Bangor joins the more than 40 locations across Sydney and the Blue Mountains that offer a range of supported and independent living options, giving people with disabilities more choice and control over their own lives. 

These are essential rights to be enjoyed by everybody, and which are enshrined in the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sylvanvale is to be commended for understanding so well how to assist people with disabilities to enjoy those rights.

Sylvanvale has not only grown in size, but also in the range of services it provides. From enabling participation through community hubs such as the Caringbah Craft Centre and Sutherland Garden House, to clinical services and flexible support planning and coordination, and inclusive services like the award-winning Mikarie Child Care Centre.

To the whole Sylvanvale family, a warm thank you. To Jeff, the Board, the Executive, thank you for your leadership and for continuing Sylvanvale’s long tradition of innovative, client-centred service. And to your wonderful staff, – what can we say? The room isn’t big enough to express the gratitude we owe to you for your constant, caring commitment to Sylvanvale. You inspire us all. 

And of course, thank you to the supporters and volunteers, to Government and Local Council agencies who, for so long, have helped facilitate and sustain Sylvanvale’s work.  

For some, including one or two in this room, 75 years seems like the blink of an eye. For Sylvanvale, 75 years represents work of momentous proportions which has built a community of which we are all so proud.

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