Nipuni Wijewickrema, 2016 ACT Young Australian of the Year

We’re standing at GG’s HQ, which is actually our garden shed.

The inspiration behind GG’s is my beautiful little sister, Gayana. She is 21 and she just happens to have Down syndrome. So we really wanted her to have meaningful employment, it just means that we’ve been able to shape and sculpt the life that she would like to lead.

For our business, we have GG’s Flowers, which is obviously a florist. We then have the hamper side of the business where we make gift hampers for all around Australia and New Zealand. And that also provides meaningful employment opportunities for people with special needs. And then we have the third side, which is the NDIS. We are an NDIS provider and we provide community access and innovative community participation for all of our participants.

One of our value adds for our participants that participate in GG’s Flowers is a boot camp. We really do believe in, you know, healthy body, healthy mind, healthy life. And we’re really committed to ensuring that all of our participants across the three businesses have a meaningful life and an ability to be fit and active and healthy. And so we run a boot camp every Monday morning in partnership with everyday champions. And that is an awesome specialized boot camp for all of our participants, where they can kind of, you know, really get fit and active and do some punching and do some boxing and do some jazz-ercise, but they can truly have a really awesome opportunity here at GG’s.

My employees with special needs are amongst the most loyal employees ever. They turn up to work, they’re on time in uniform, they have no attitude. They’re just so grateful to work. And for me being able to do that and being able to be part of their story is just awesome.

International Day of people with a disability is my favourite day. We have an awesome celebration here at GG’s. And we just celebrate all of our staff, and all of these people that we get to work with. Again, it’s an honour and a privilege for my support workers that we employ. They love coming to work every day to serve people with disabilities to lead a meaningful life.

And it’s a very special day where we can celebrate the achievements and we can celebrate you know the special nature of the work that we do. So every IDPwD, the GG’s family and I and all of our staff and all of our participants, we get together and we have a massive celebration because we just think that that’s the most important day of the year for us.

It’s also for people without disabilities that are really committed to celebrating and helping people with disabilities change and lead meaningful lives. If there are people out there that are interested in making a difference and helping and making the world a kinder of place, I say go for it. Because we need more people in our community bringing on social change, bringing on social impact so that we’re all together in this world, making meaningful difference.