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Matters of Public Importance – Charities speech

16:19, 8/02/2018: Thank you to the opposition for raising this important issue. I don’t get enough time to talk about charities in this chamber. They fulfil a vital role in our society and in our communities, helping everyone when they need a hand. I work very closely with a large number of charities, both local and national, and I consider many of their staff and volunteers to be friends. I’d like to think that, if any of them were feeling undermined, they would tell me. I have nothing but praise for those who work or volunteer with charities. They are the most selfless, kind and caring members of our communities.

I am very proud to have some excellent local charities in Bennelong, and I’m privileged to work very closely with them. Helen Crouch and her team at North Ryde Community Aid & Information Centre are wonderful contributors to the Ryde area. Every year my office and I take part in packing and delivering their Christmas hampers; it’s a highlight of the year. I’m very proud to say that this is an immovable fixture in my calendar—hell, high water and even a by-election won’t keep me away! This year my sisters Annette and Susan joined me, and we had a great time.

Heather Pinto and her dedicated people at Christian Community Aid are just as vital to the residents of Eastwood and Epping. CCA helps with services ranging from transport to child care. Particularly impressive are the language-assistance classes and support they offer, helping the many people from Eastwood with English as a second language to access the vital services they need. There are many more local groups like these in our community, providing essential support for many locals. Sadly, I do not have time to mention them all; there are just too many generous people in the electorate.

But Bennelong is also home to many other charities that don’t just focus on helping locals, but extend their services more widely across the state or country. Our Stronger Communities Program grants have provided thousands of dollars across our communities, and much of it has been directed towards charities. We’re aiming to give $43,000 to local charities in our latest batch of grants. In the last three weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of informing Jo-Anne Reeves of Parkinson’s NSW that the government will be providing $20,000 to refurbish their community meeting rooms. I’ve also been able to tell Epilepsy Australia that we’ll be giving them $10,000 to upgrade their IT so that they can reach more people touched by epilepsy. And Glyn Henman and Llew Morris of Young Life Australia will be getting $3,500 to help them engage with more young people and help them find their way in the world. We’re also home to the excellent YouthSafe, run by the inimitable Warren Johnson. This group arranges training for our young people on how to stay safe in their daily lives, especially on and around our roads. Our road toll is too high, especially at this time of the year, so any work done in this area deserves all our support.

I’m also a particular fan of the follically focussed charities. For many years I’ve sported a moustache for Movember, and just before my recent enforced absence from this place I had my head shaved by the students of North Ryde Public School for the Leukaemia Foundation. Just before the shave, I walked 100 kilometres around my electorate to raise money and awareness for this great cause, while this small school raised more than any other school. I had also previously done a similar walk, and raised nearly $10,000 for Motor Neurone Disease Australia.

My time is almost up, but I’d also like to drop the names of Tanya Hall from hearts4heart, and Christine Nolan from Breast Cancer Network Australia. Both of these groups are dedicated to helping people with heart and cancer conditions, and I have been delighted to welcome both of these charities to this House in the last year, aiming to get more support for these causes.

That’s a quick run-down of 10 charities that we’re not undermining, and if I had time I would love to go on and mention all of the selfless Bennelongians who are helping others in our community. Thank you everyone in Bennelong and across Australia who give time, money and support to a charity. The work you do is essential, and we can never thank you enough.