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Parliamentary speech: Volunteering

13 August 2018

Private Members Business: Volunteering

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (11:37): Thank you to my friend and colleague the member for Bonner for raising this important topic. I note the motion recognises the volunteers of Bonner, and while I’m sure they are a formidable bunch I find it hard to believe that they could compare with the incredibly enterprising and caring volunteers of Bennelong. Volunteering at its core is the belief in helping one another. It is a noble Australian tradition to volunteer by lending a hand to those in need, and every day I’m encouraged by the wonderful work done by the volunteers in my electorate of Bennelong.

Across our large and diverse community there are volunteers from all walks of life helping others in all manner of ways. Groups such as Rotary and the Lions Club routinely work in conjunction with government resources to extend their benefit to the community at large. Of the many organisations in my community, I would like to inform the House of a few particular ones that have done such good work of late.

Christian Community Aid is a local organisation focused on delivering vital services to the needy through their trained social workers and volunteer helpers. They provide numerous high-quality services. I would like to highlight their recent launch of the mobile play van, as part of their playground-in-the-park mobile playgroup program. The van will be able to provide structured play resources to aid in early childhood development and will develop skills such as literacy, numeracy, science, construction, art, craft, music, group activities and imaginative play. The van’s mobility means it can reach families across the electorate.

CCA has a particular focus on engaging culturally and linguistically diverse families, which is very beneficial in Bennelong as we have a proud and strong multicultural community. CCA aims to have 50 per cent of playgroups targeting children and their grandparents of Chinese background, as evidence suggests these families face greater obstacles to accessing vital early-childhood learning resources. I would like to congratulate everyone at CCA—the incredible Heather Pinto and her team, and particularly Petrana Barac-Dunn—for organising the van’s launch recently on 9 August. A great many members of our community, including representatives of Rotary and me, were present, and we were greatly impressed by CCA’s efforts.

I would like to add that this project has only come about through generous grants from the federal government’s Stronger Community Partnership grant program, which makes high-quality, valuable projects such as these viable. I look forward to seeing what other projects are successful through this program.

There are volunteers at all levels of our society making our community run smoothly and ensuring that everybody has access to the services and opportunities they need to thrive. Among the great groups that devote time and effort in return for nothing at all are the school P&Cs, which enrich the lives of our students and our schools. Locally they’ve been instrumental in facilitating other grants to enrich our schools. In particular, I would like to focus on two most recent successful recipients of the Armistice Centenary project grants. Epping Boys High School P&C Association have received a generous grant to establish a memorial garden on their school grounds for students to remember and pay tribute to the sacrifice of past students during the First World War. Additionally, Karonga School in Epping have also been successful in receiving a grant to construct a commemorative garden memorial and education program for their students to learn about the sacrifice that so many Australians made during the First World War.

Congratulations to these groups and, indeed, to all the thousands of volunteers who help the people of Bennelong. Many of you are silent toilers working forever in the background and never seeing the congratulations and thanks you deserve, so I would like to say thank you on behalf of all of us. Thank you for your tireless efforts to make our community a better place and to ensure everybody has a fair go and that nobody gets left behind. Volunteers are the best part of our society and deserve the highest praise this House can offer.