03 December 2020

Tina Fielding is a remarkable woman from my local community who is achieving things that most people can only dream of; so remarkable, in fact, that WA's screen funding development agency, Screenwest, in partnership with Carers Western Australia, selected Tina to be part of a 12-part short documentary series titled Different Lens. The series provides an insight into what life is like for 13 Western Australians living with a disability just like Tina. The reason for the spotlight is Tina has written, co-produced and is the leading star in her very own short film entitled Sparkles.

Sparkles is the story of a young woman with Down's syndrome who leaves her past behind and embarks on the long journey from Kalgoorlie to Perth. She encounters new and unlikely friends along the way, teaching all of us to be proud of who we are and where we've come from. Directed by Tina's mentor, the wonderful Jacqueline Pelczar, Sparkles was created with support from Screenwest through the Elevate and Generate funding initiatives. Sparkles is due to be released soon and will hopefully feature at the Perth Film Festival. I was lucky enough to see a preview just yesterday and I want to say to you, Tina, I loved it. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the International Day of People with a Disability than to celebrate Tina Fielding and Sparkles.

On a different note, I'd like to give a shout-out to the graduating students from schools across Brand. To the students of Baldivis Secondary College, Comet Bay College, Gilmore College, Kolbe Catholic College, Living Waters Lutheran College, Mother Teresa Catholic College, Tranby College, Peter Carnley Anglican Community School, Ridge View Secondary College, Rockingham Senior High School Education Support Centre, Safety Bay Senior High School, South Metropolitan Youth Link Community College, Warnbro Community High School Education Support Centre and, of course, Malibu School, which is one of my favourites: this year has undoubtedly been substantially different to the year you had planned or thought would occur. Regardless of what has happened throughout this year, all you students who are graduating this week, next week or even last week, can say you've made it to the end.

Reaching the end of something means it's also the time for new beginnings and you are about to all start a new chapter in your life. Here's where your future begins. It's okay to still be deciding what your future looks like; there's plenty of time for that. What you do may change along the way and that's alright. You're on the cusp of your adult life and, as daunting as that may be, there's always a bright future ahead. Whatever you choose to do, whether you go to university or to TAFE or you get a job, just remember what this year has shown you—that through the struggles of COVID and restrictions on education, circumstances can change in an instant, so it's best to make the most of the opportunities while you have them. Good luck to all graduating students, to their families, and the teachers and staff of all the schools across the district who have helped them along their way. Best of luck for 2021 and congratulations on your achievement.