Beverley Park Special School

25 May 2017

Mister Speaker

I speak today about Beverley Park Special School in Campbelltown in my electorate of Macarthur. The school arose out of the need for schooling for the children residing in the Beverley Park Home for Crippled Children and hospital, run by the New South Wales Society for Crippled Children—now Northcott Disability Services. The home started in 1938, and the school was set up in 1956, the year of the Melbourne Olympics. Initially, the school catered for children with the more severe forms of muscular dystrophy, particularly the Duchenne type, spina bifida and cerebral palsy.

I first visited Beverley Park in the late 1970s with Professor Tom Taylor, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon. The school now caters for children with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. Some children are wheelchair-bound, many are nonverbal, some have seizures and some have severe autism. There are approximately 60 children at the school at any one time. The school has cared for many of my patients over the last 35 years, and without exception parents have praised the staff and the school to the highest degree.

At the present time, the school is led by Jacqueline Lockyer, a wonderful headmistress, dedicated and hard working. She is supported by staff that work so hard and care for every kid in the school. The children make progress, but perhaps not in the ways that we expect, in that simple things, such as taking a first step or learning to be toilet trained when you are eight or nine years of age—or even making eye contact and being able to use a spoon—are very important, life-changing progress for these kids. The school playground, unfortunately, has deteriorated significantly over many years, and the school and community are trying to raise at least $120,000 to provide a playground suitable for these children and a sensory area for the children with autism. The proceeds of the annual mayoral ball at Campbelltown this year will be going to the school.

Madam Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, I commend the school to you and I hope the government will provide some support for a project that will make an enormous difference to some very special kids. The school itself is set in really beautiful grounds, and the kids are always happy when I go there. I recently visited the school with the state member for Campbelltown, Greg Warren, and met with the teachers and the staff. I was very impressed with the progress the school has made, but the playground really is not suitable for children with such severe disabilities, and we need to improve it to make their lives better.