Council volunteer recognised

Long-time Council volunteer, Sharon Ding, was recognisesharon with caption.PNGd with an Excellence in Making Inclusion Happen award at the ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Awards at the end of last year.

The award was well deserved given Sharon's dedication and work on addressing the needs of students with a disability in our schools.

Sharon has been a member of Council Executive for more than five years in which time she has represented Council in advocating for change on disability and special education needs, especially as a representative on the Education Directorate’s Disability Education Reference Group (DERG).

“Change is incremental – ongoing, progressive. There’s never an end point,” said Sharon in reflecting on her time with Council. “It’s great to be part of that progressive education movement. Even though it is in gradual steps, you can see that you’re making progress. All the parents and Council members and staff are fantastic to work with, so you feel tremendously energised and inspired by people working alongside you to achieve the best education opportunities and outcomes for every student in our community.”

Sharon is particularly pleased to have seen significant progress in response to the ‘Schools for All’ report commissioned by the ACT Government in 2015.

“There were 50 recommendations in that report, so there are a lot of projects that came out of it. Through my work on the DERG, I’ve seen what is being done. We’ve seen the Positive Behaviours for Learning framework adopted by a lot of schools. We’re seeing schools teaching growth mindset and other important life skills and general capabilities.”

Sharon is also passionate about her Council role in representing parents.

“The parent voice needs to be heard and voiced and it is a fantastic privilege to be able to work with Council on that,” Sharon said. “In DERG, there are many different community members. Those diverse voices are so important, each bringing their unique view and knowledge to enrich discussions and achieve a best-practice approach to inclusion.”

“No one has all the answers but like a jigsaw, we all hold a piece of the puzzle, so it is important for us to contribute our bit to the collective effort.”

Sharon also brings lived experience as a person with mobility disability and carer experience as a parent of a young child with disability. She is unwavering in her support of inclusion and the need to talk constantly about the benefits and value of diversity, to capture the unique contributions of every individual and give all our students the opportunity to aim for the stars and realise their dreams.

Council is grateful to Sharon for her significant contributions to our lobbying, research and development, and her on-going support of other parents.

Find out what makes other volunteers tick!

This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 1, 2020.