Am­bas­sador is a pas­sion­ate Aus­tralian

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - ERICA MUR­REE erica.mur­

AUS­TRALIA Day Am­bas­sador Carmel Crouch is pas­sion­ate about her coun­try and as­sist­ing the dis­abled.

Thank­ing peo­ple for her warm wel­come to Biggen­den’s Aus­tralia Day cer­e­mony, Ms Crouch said it was nice to visit ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

“It’s great to see com­mu­ni­ties come to­gether as it hap­pens so much bet­ter in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

“We are here to­day to cel­e­brate Aus­tralia’s di­ver­sity and to know just how lucky we are.

“When I travel out of Aus­tralia

it gives me a warm feel­ing when land­ing back on home soil.”

Ms Crouch is a dis­tin­guished busi­ness­woman and com­mu­nity leader known for her work in build­ing ca­pac­ity and em­pow­er­ing in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties to­wards in­de­pen­dence.

A long-time ad­vo­cate for peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity, she has worked for more than 30 years de­vel­op­ing pro­grams and ser­vices that give peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for em­ploy­ment, hous­ing, hap­pi­ness, health and well­be­ing.

As man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of STEPS Group of com­pa­nies on the Sun­shine Coast, Ms Crouch’s fo­cus on strate­gic part­ner­ships has been key to sup­port­ing pos­i­tive out­comes for in­di­vid­u­als and estab­lish­ing stronger com­mu­ni­ties.

Ms Crouch said her proud­est per­sonal achieve­ment was the es­tab­lish­ment of the STEPS Path­ways Col­lege

“STEPS’ hum­ble be­gin­nings started back in 1989 when a group of par­ents, all of whom had a child with a dis­abil­ity, felt there wasn’t enough sup­port in place to al­low their chil­dren to build their own in­de­pen­dence,” she said.

With a dis­abled child of her own, Ms Crouch de­vel­oped a board­ing col­lege on the Sun­shine Coast for 19-30-yearolds to at­tend over four years.

Ms Crouch said the first co­horts have been sent out into the com­mu­nity and are suc­cess­fully liv­ing in­de­pen­dent lives.

“I get goose bumps think­ing about it,” she said.

“I only hope oth­ers get on board but it is an ex­pen­sive pro­gram.”

When it comes to fund­ing, she said she is a very loud voice in Can­berra and in most states.

“It is our job to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives,” she said

Pic­ture: Con­trib­uted

IM­PRES­SIVE SPEAKER: Aus­tralia Day Am­bas­sador Carmel Crouch was at Biggen­den's cel­e­bra­tions.

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