House debates

Monday, 26 November 2018

Private Members' Business


5:34 pm

Photo of Bert Van ManenBert Van Manen (Forde, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to take this opportunity to speak on the very important topic of volunteering and the terrific and wonderful role that volunteers play in bringing the Australian community together. I would like to pay tribute to the many groups of volunteers in my electorate of Forde, such Nightlight, Twin Rivers Community Care, Brigalow Country Community Club, and our men's sheds at Pimpama and Beenleigh. In addition to these and many other great community organisations, our sporting clubs are run very successfully thanks to the tireless efforts of our volunteers.

Nightlight provides help, care and support to the homeless and people in crisis. Nightlight goes the extra mile, providing anything from a coffee to transportation to and from detox and rehab centres. Nothing is too big or small for the team at Nightlight. It was a great privilege to attend their thanksgiving dinner over the weekend, which acknowledged the great work of all the volunteers who make Nightlight such a success. I know, from speaking with John and Michaela during the week, the number of calls they've had in the past week from those in crisis, looking for accommodation.

Last week, I also met with Twin Rivers Community Care, where the Minister for Families and Social Services, Minister Fletcher, and I announced that they would receive $220,000 in funding over the next 4½ years to provide emergency relief to residents in the Logan-Beaudesert area. Twin Rivers is a food co-op in my electorate, providing affordable food and household products for those in need. In addition, they also provide traineeships, hospitality courses and employment opportunities to disadvantaged youth. I thank the many volunteers who contribute their time at Twin Rivers Community Care, and in particular Noel and Gayle Roberts for the terrific work they've done over many, many years now, in building the food co-op. I also thank Reuben and Michelle Roos, who are the senior pastors at Twin Rivers Church.

Brigalow Country Community Club hosts two Saturday social events every month for those with disabilities. Not only does it provide a place for the community to get together, but Max Noble, the club president, helps those in our community who have fallen on hard times however he can. Whether it's providing an electric wheelchair, a scooter, products to assist the disabled or furniture, Max and his team at Brigalow Country Community Club will always look to find a solution to a problem.

Our men's sheds in Beenleigh and Pimpama and also the Make and Do Association at Loganholme are other incredible organisations in my electorate. I recently had the privilege of awarding the Pimpama Men's Shed with $3,750 as part of the government's successful Stronger Communities grant program. The contributions of the men's sheds often go unnoticed—restoring furniture, building a cubby house or stools for local schools, while providing a space for retirees to stay connected. We discussed at Pimpama Men's Shed the importance of mental health for many of these gentlemen who have left the workforce, sometimes involuntarily, and have not had the opportunity to recommence meaningful work. The men's shed gives them an opportunity to talk to fellow men and share their concerns and worries and allows them to deal with the issues that they're facing.

With over 8.7 million volunteers across Australia in organisations such as sports clubs, charities and schools, we, as a country, should be very proud of those organisations, because they do so much to make our local communities what they are today.

I've mentioned a couple of my local organisations, but I'd also like to pay special thanks to a number of other groups in my electorate, including Quota International, the Rotary Club, the Queensland Country Women's Association, our local Lions clubs and—as I noted in my earlier comments—our many and varied sporting clubs for the terrific work they do each and every weekend and through the week in the sporting fields around my electorate to ensure that the kids in my electorate have the opportunity to play sports and be part of our community. I'd like to thank our volunteers. Thank you.

5:39 pm

Photo of Emma McBrideEmma McBride (Dobell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The theme of International Volunteer Day, on 5 December, is 'volunteers build resilient communities'. The more than 8.7 million volunteers across Australia make an enormous contribution nationally and in my community on the Central Coast of New South Wales, from fighting fires and clearing storm damage, to helping vulnerable people in crisis, to running sports clubs and keeping people safe on our beaches, and along the way helping to build resilient communities. The recipients of this year's New South Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards for the Central Coast give some idea of the breadth of volunteer work and the value of their contribution in our community.

The Young Volunteer of the Year, Madeleine Clark, volunteers at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance's Tuggerah therapy centre. Madeleine, who is studying speech pathology, uses her skills to assist young children in bonding with their parents and in developing social and cognitive skills, via the Mini Musician Group and School Readiness Program.

The Adult Volunteer of the Year for the Central Coast, Christine Lavers, has spent 25 years helping to keep the Umina Surf Life Saving Club afloat, working at carnivals, registration, officiating at events, and promoting beach safety.

The Senior Volunteer of the Year, and overall volunteer of the year for the Central Coast, is Barbara Galvin, who founded, and volunteers with, Shirley Shuttle Cancer Outpatient Transport Service. Over the past decade, Barbara has personally contributed and raised funds to buy four vehicles to transport cancer patients to their treatment, and home, all around the Central Coast.

Finally, the team of 20 volunteers at We Care Uniting was recognised as the Volunteer Team of the Year for the Central Coast. We Care Uniting collects and distributes essential care and safety items to vulnerable children across our region. I'm pleased that my electorate office is one of the several collection points for donations for this valuable service.

As many volunteers will tell you, volunteers can benefit just as much from volunteering as those that they help. It is increasingly recognised that a sense of belonging improves wellbeing. Volunteering can be that connection between you and the community. Jo from We Care Uniting told me that she feels like she is making a difference through volunteering. She said, 'I feel like I'm making a change to someone's life and I think I'm making a difference to people around me.' This feeling is shared by Karen Hickmott, who coordinates the Stingray Nippers Inclusion Program run by Toowoon Bay Surf Life Saving Club, which provides one-on-one support to children with disabilities for joining Nippers on the Coast. Karen told me, 'It means the world to me to be able to pull together a team of volunteers that enables children with additional needs to participate in an iconic community activity.' And volunteers like Bob Ihlein from The Entrance Men's Shed, who took up volunteering when he retired, joining the shed movement, which works shoulder to shoulder to support their members and the wider community. Bob told me that being retired and with plenty of time on his hands he decided to join the local men's shed. As a member of the shed movement, he said, 'I volunteer my time to help other shed members, and we, as a shed, all volunteer our time and expertise to help our community, which is very gratifying.' And Chris Miles, secretary of the Wyong District Netball Association, who started volunteering with the Kanwal Netball Club in 1978 and has been on the executive of the Wyong District Netball Association since 1983. Chris has been recognised with both the Wyong Shire's award and New South Wales Premier's award for volunteering, but she tells me that it is the friendships she has made that mean the most to her. Today, Chris said to me: 'It is the friendships you make and the sense of achievement. If people don't volunteer, then that school or sports club wouldn't make the same achievements without us. When I started volunteering, everybody volunteered. Our parents volunteered—it keeps you young.'

While volunteers often look like superheroes, the truth is that they do need support. The truth is that we need to do more to help those who are helping others. Many volunteer organisations rely on governments to help provide their services and it can be extremely disheartening for volunteers working with a program that is successful, supporting vulnerable people and supporting our community, only to find that their funding has been cut or won't be continued. Funding of community services in our community should be sustainable, should be focused on collaboration rather than competition, should support local and diverse service provision and should recognise that not-for-profit organisations are often better placed than for-profit corporations to provide these crucial frontline services.

Finally I would like to give a shout-out to the SES, who helped my sister when she was 39 weeks pregnant and a flash flood left her stranded at home. I'm pleased to let the SES know that my sister and her new baby are now doing well. Thank you.

5:44 pm

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our communities and in particular our country communities. They make vital contributions to our success as a nation. I would like to pay tribute to a number of volunteer organisations in the Calare electorate who contribute so much to our Central West communities.

The St John Ambulance Molong Cadet Division has been operating since 1995. They are one of two cadet divisions this side of the Blue Mountains, the other one being at Broken Hill. The Molong Cadet Division consists of about 45 members, with a recent boost in the number of young people getting involved. The youngest member is just eight years old. Members hail from Molong and surrounding towns and villages such as Manildra and Euchareena. They hold weekly meetings every Thursday at the Molong Central School hall. During their meetings, badge work and first aid training is undertaken. The Molong cadets can be seen at almost every local event, including local shows at Cumnock, Manildra, Cudal, Molong and Canowindra—I've seen them in action helping the injured at country shows; their work is outstanding—sporting events such as martial arts in Dubbo and Orange and rugby in Walla; and communities events such as the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge, the Molong Advancement Group markets, the SMARTS Festival at Molong Central School. Australia Day, Anzac Day, Christmas carols—you name it; the cadets from Molong are there. Ten members also recently travelled to Dubbo for the royal visit, where they provided assistance to royal watchers from right around Australia.

I would like to mention the St John Ambulance Molong Cadet Division members tonight, including divisional superintendent, Julie Dean; grade 5 officers, Kerry Burchett and Elizabeth Newstead, who is 80 years old and has been a member for more than 30 years; cadet leaders, Jade Kirk and Annalise Livermore; senior cadets, who assist with the training of junior cadets, Rebecca Geddes, Christalin Drady, Rebekah Livermore and Thomas Livermore, who will be travelling to England in 2019 for a gap year and will work with local St John Ambulance groups during his stay; John Burchett, who is the treasurer; Les Dean, Charlotte Cassell and Deb Lytton; and Jake Clarke, who assisted with an emergency at the Orange Centrelink office earlier this year.

A number of cadets received awards at the St John Ambulance annual awards ceremony held at Sydney University's Great Hall recently. Awards were presented to Molong cadet members in a number of different categories, including: bronze commendations to Betty Newstead and Kerry Burchett, for outstanding service to the Molong Cadet Division; the Save a Life Award to Jake Clarke, who, as I've mentioned, helped resuscitate a lady at Centrelink in Orange recently; the 2nd bar to the Service Medal, for 22 years of service, went to Julie Dean; and the Western Region Cadet of the Year went to Rebekah Livermore. At the Cabonne Daroo Business Awards recently, the division was highly commended in the Community Organisation category, out of 23 nominations. At the recent Molong Rotary Club meeting, the Youth of the Year Award went to Annalise Livermore, and its Community Group of the Year also went to the Molong Cadet Division. Congratulations to everyone at the Molong Cadet Division. We certainly value your work.

The Cudal Red Cross has been working hard for our local area for many years. It has 11 wonderful members. They are working on a number of projects. I would like to mention those members here tonight: the president, LeeAnn Hazelton; the secretary, Melissa Aylward; the treasurer, Marion Gosper, who was recently presented with a 40-years-of-service bar; Marianne Mac Smith, who was presented with a gilt rosette to mark 60 years of service, having joined the Red Cross when she lived in Hastings, New Zealand, as a child, and, when she married Lance Mac Smith and moved to Cudal, joined the Australian Red Cross in 1958—her mother and grandmother were both committed to charity work, and she has followed in their footsteps; during her time with the Cudal branch she has been president, secretary and treasurer, and is currently patron of the branch—Janet Norton, Fiona Hall and Donald McFarlane, who was recently presented with a 40-years–of-service bar; and Belinda Hough, Dorothy Balcomb, Kim Pattinson and Laurel Hazelton.

The current project which the Cudal branch of the Red Cross is involved in includes a collection of old chairs which will be painted by renowned artists and local school students and will be auctioned, raising money to support the work of the Red Cross. I thank all of our volunteers in the Central West and right around Australia for their wonderful contribution. I think in this House tonight we would like them to know that we as local members value their contribution, appreciate them and love working with them.

5:49 pm

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak in favour of the motion put forward by the member for Bonner. I take great pleasure in following my good friend the member for Dobell and, indeed, all my colleagues who have already spoken and those who are yet to speak on this motion in the future, as it is something where there is bipartisanship. It really is something which we all agree on.

The first point of this motion recognises the fantastic contribution that volunteers make to the community of Bonner. On indulgence, I would like to inform the House of some of the fantastic work being done by volunteers in my electorate of Macarthur and in electorates all around Australia. Volunteers are the backbone of the Macarthur electorate. Across Australia, many millions of Australians volunteer every year, and I'm proud to say that many of these wonderful people come from the Macarthur electorate. Everywhere you go across Macarthur, you see wonderful local residents volunteering their time, their hard work and their expertise for the betterment of our community. People volunteer across Macarthur to help out their neighbours, to lend a helping hand to those in need and to contribute to our local schools, sporting organisations, charities and not-for-profits.

In light of International Volunteer Day, which will take place next Wednesday, 5 December, I had the privilege of holding a volunteer award ceremony and afternoon tea in my electorate office last week. Over the last couple of months, I had been accepting nominations for worthy Macarthur residents to receive my volunteer award, and I was pleased that so many wonderful local residents were nominated by their respective organisations. Many of these people I knew firsthand had worked in developmental support organisations, in places like Lifeline, in organisations feeding the homeless and in a whole range of other different organisations which I've been involved with.

I wish to take this opportunity to mention the many wonderful people who became recipients of my award and who contribute so much to the Macarthur community. They include Julie Murphy, Shila Thomas, Janet Shiels, Eric Third, Valerie Avery, Mia Asuit, Jan Domanski, John Bates, Larry Fuller, Charmaine Fowler, Sally Anne Hurley, Jonas Pereira, Michael Atkinson, Jayden Wilkie, Anna Sabalj, Lee Turner, Skye Betts, Kevin Wilkie, Chantelle Wilkie, Annette Johnson, Jan Drenth, Amanda Axisa, Brian Meleng, Ruth Brown, Christine Padilla, Michelle Morn, Elise Marcus and Kate Banister. We owe a debt of gratitude to these people, along with many, many others, who selflessly give their time, their energy, their resources and their expertise to improve our community of Macarthur.

I'm immensely proud of the volunteer effort in Macarthur. There are many organisations which are vital to our community, which are run off the backs of our generous volunteers. I see firsthand how hard they work and also the fruits of their labour. There are countless other individuals who contribute so much as volunteers, who weren't named and who haven't been nominated but probably should be. If I were to name them all in my community, I would be here all day. In my career as a paediatrician, I've had the distinct privilege of working alongside many volunteers in our community, in our hospitals and in our health services. It is my distinct pleasure to be able to continue to do so now as their federal member of parliament. The services these people provide for our community are invaluable and deserve to be recognised. From the lovely women whom I see volunteering at Campbelltown Hospital and whom I've gotten close to over the many years of working there, to the parents who volunteer in our local special schools, to the people who volunteer for their local footy club at the weekend—these volunteers enrich the lives of each and every one of us and add so much to our community.

There are too many volunteers to name them all; however, it would be remiss of me to forget to mention one of our local Tax Help volunteers, Joseph Mascarenhas. My office as been the site for an Australian Taxation Office Tax Help program for quite a long time now, and over that time we have got to know Joseph very well. He is a really outstanding citizen. He is now retired, though he dedicates his time to give back, as he says, to our local community, by helping low-income earners complete their tax returns every year. I look forward to continue to offer my office over the coming years to host this wonderful service, and I thank Joseph so much for his selfless contribution to our community.

I note from the member for Bonner's motion that volunteering efforts make an estimated annual economic and social contribution of $290 billion to Australia. This is a truly remarkable contribution, and it's pertinent that we support the efforts of our volunteers wherever possible. Thank you, volunteers, for all you do in Macarthur and around Australia. We are gathered here today as elected representatives to serve our communities and are given generous compensation to do so, yet you provide community support for no financial compensation. The many volunteers who we pay homage to today serve our communities selflessly— (Time expired)

5:55 pm

Photo of Emma HusarEmma Husar (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I follow the member for Macarthur in thanking the wonderful volunteers in his community. I'd also like to thank the member for Bonner, who brought this volunteer motion forward. I rise very proudly today in this House to pay tribute to some of the tireless volunteers in my electorate of Lindsay, which I'm so privileged to represent. Lindsay is an exceptional part of the world. Over 20,000 people in my electorate volunteer. From sporting clubs and service groups to school canteens and reading groups, we have it all—and lots and lots of it. It's that special glue, that magical glue, that makes a place a home and fills you with a sense of purpose and belonging.

Volunteering is part of the fabric of Australia. We get in, give a hand and get it done. Research has also shown that volunteering is a two-way relationship. The OECD Better Life Index found that volunteers enjoyed life more due to the sense of satisfaction that comes from interaction, goal setting, achievement and learning new things. Giving makes you happy. There is scientific research to prove it. People who give time or money are 42 per cent happier than those who do not.

I love the term prosocial behaviour. It's often the crux of volunteerism. There are a number of organisations in Lindsay, like the Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce. They have recently been given new life thanks to the outgoing president, Wayne Willmington, and his board. I'd like to personally thank Wayne and the team at Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce for their generous support of our business community. I would also like to congratulate the incoming board, made up of Simon Gould, Anil Puri and Mary Donnelly—big shoes to fill, but I know you're up for the challenge.

On Melbourne Cup Day, I was thrilled to attend the fundraising breakfast for the Penrith Community Kitchen, organised by Julie Lonard from the Nepean Business Network. This amazing event almost raised $40,000 to keep one of the volunteering institutions of Lindsay pumping out over 2,000 meals for the homeless every single week. This is no mean feat from either of the organisations involved, and I'm so filled with pride for both of these organisations. They are both organised and supported by volunteers, and both will be seen into the future by volunteers.

Last week I was thrilled to be able to secure and distribute some federal grants for some of the wonderful local volunteer groups in my community. The Luke Priddis Foundation, which supports children with autism and their volunteers and therapists, will now have a new kitchen to teach kids life skills thanks to the grant we were able to secure.

Paying it Forward is a charity that I have personally volunteered with for many, many years, headed up by Gen and Rob Jagt, the founders of this charity. It was my pleasure to help them fund a vehicle which will enable them to continue to expand on their support for the most socially marginalised through delivery of goods and services using their new wheels.

We also have the Nepean Food Services in my electorate, possibly the largest volunteer organisation, who now have a new family table to share many delicious and happy meals from. They provide countless meals to older people in our community and also those who are on the fringes. I want to say a massive thank you to Nepean Food Services for all that they do and thank every single one of the volunteers I've been proud to interact with over the last three years.

Mama Lana's Community Foundation, who was recognised as New South Wales Volunteer of the Year in 2017 for her work in my electorate helping to feed the homeless and vulnerable, has received a commercial-grade fridge and freezer, allowing them to increase the ability to accept donations and keep them fresher for longer. Thank you to Lana and Roger Borg, the founders of Mama Lana's Community Foundation.

Nepean Multicultural Access requested and received computers to help provide training and program access for new Australians and migrants into a community, helping them to get on their feet, to find work, to find social services and to be connected. I want to thank Laura Sardo and all the team at NMA for all of the work that they do for our marginalised new migrant communities and for reaching out and giving support where it's most needed.

Our volunteer sporting groups around the Nepean Valley regional sports centre will finally be able to put their feet up for a well-deserved break after another huge year of coaching, reffing and all-round organising through thousands of hours of community support for new outdoor seating. I was sitting on it just at the weekend and am pleased to know that I've been instrumental in being able to secure some new furniture after I copped a splinter in the leg from the old stuff that has been there since I was little. The equipment—even more proudly am I of this—was manufactured from 360,000 plastic bags, so we have the added benefit of saving all that plastic from landfill as well as not getting splinters on the backs of the legs of mums and dads sitting down there at training every week.

I am incredibly proud of the 20,000-plus volunteers of Lindsay and the selfless devotion that they have to their causes. You are the heroes of our community. I will leave you with a quote from Winston Churchill that probably sums up the heart of volunteerism: 'We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.' Happy Volunteer Day!

Debate adjourned.