An advocate for change

PETER Bray's tireless dedication to improving services and amenity for people with disabilities has been driven by one very special person in his life, his daughter Geraldine.

"This is Geraldine in work, because she can't do it herself," he said. 

It has been more than 20 years since Mr Bray and his wife Margaret became Geraldine's full-time carers, their daughter was left with permanent disability after a high-level car collision.

"That's what introduced me, literally by accident, to the world of people with disability," he said.

"It's when you've been touched personally by something that you become in involved, you're not aware of this world but what a gorgeous, glorious and at times sad world it is."

Mr Bray has fully immersed himself in this world and was recognised for his efforts winning the Accessible Community Award at the National Disability Services Achievement Award on Monday.

The awards were held by organisation Life Without Barriers.The 71-year-old was commended for his working helping to establish respite care facility in Queanbeyan, the Moudji Respite Centre.

On winning the award he said, "I feel very honoured and surprised but it was a team effort, these things are never done by just one person."

Mr Bray is also involved with the Queanbeyan Childrens Special Needs Group, Meals on Wheels and the Charity Book Fair.

The Jerrabomberra resident said he views himself as a disability advocate and is able to use his management experience in previous fields to help organisations.

"In my time I've learnt just how much the disability sector needs assistance, not only carers but also the community-based organisations. They are under a lot of pressure but receive limited funding."

Mr Bray's pursuit for a more accessible city for people with disabilities also led to his involvement in local politics. Mr Bray is serving his second term on the Queanbeyan City Council and was recently re-elected deputy mayor unopposed. 

He counts the Crawford Street Lifestyle Precinct as a good example of the city becoming more disability-friendly.

"What I would like to work toward is a change in national building standards for houses, particularly new houses, for wider doorways, wider corridors, bigger bathrooms, fewer steps to accommodate growing families, children in prams, grandparents with walking frames and people with motorised scooters."

Mr Bray said being introduced into the world of people with disabilities has really changed his life. The worries and concerns he had 20 years ago rarely float into his mind these days.

"It's a bit philosophical but in a way in today's world, the people who've have the least grounds to complain about life, complain the most. Those with disabilities have good grounds to complain but they complain the least. It's interesting, isn't it? They just live with the cards they're dealt, they're happy, grateful, generous, smile and take life as it is. It's an incentive for people without disability to assist them."

Peter Bray will be running the Charity Book Fair this Friday and Saturday at the Queanbeyan Community Centre.

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