Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Invictus Games, Werriwa Electorate: Shepherd Centre
I have spoken in this place before about Andrew Wilkinson and his excellent results in the recent Invictus Games. It was a pleasure to catch up with Andrew in my electorate office last month, to see his impressive medal haul and to meet his travelling companion, Able Seaman Miller. Able Seaman Miller is one of 10 Anzac bears given to the athletes to promote some of Australia's World War I heroes with the schoolchildren. Andrew took photos of the bear on the podium and at his events, and he will eventually be given to one of the local schools in my area.
Also to welcome Invictus Games participants, Pauline James, State President of the RSL New South Wales Auxiliaries, presented quilts and laundry bags to all Invictus Games athletes. Originally the auxiliary group project asked for 550 Australian-themed laundry bags. They received 1,360. They asked for 25 quilts and received 72. Then they asked for 1,256 yellow poppies. They stopped counting after 8,000. Each participating country was given a quilt, along with Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex. This project brought ladies from across Australia together to make these beautiful quilts and laundry bags. Blue Hills Retirement Village in my electorate made 800 of the yellow poppies. The beautiful quilts that are left over from this project for the Invictus Games are going to be used in the RSL Auxiliary's 'thank you for your service' quilts. One of the most special parts of the Invictus Games is how the event has brought Australians together like this. It is incredibly special, and I hope it serves as a reminder to those who serve that Australia is grateful for their service and is always willing to get behind our veterans.
Also last month I visited the Shepherd Centre at Casula. The centre runs a community preschool where one-third of the cohort have a hearing loss and the other two-thirds have normal hearing abilities. This enables deaf children to engage in supportive, inclusive early intervention learning environments. The Shepherd Centre is an outstanding model that represents the power of early intervention. It allows deaf children to get the best possible start in their education while navigating the challenges that hearing loss presents. The Shepherd Centre are currently raising funds to enable them to provide further services in Campbelltown, in the member for Macarthur's electorate. This is where the research has told them there is the most need in Western Sydney. Graduates of the early intervention program run by the Shepherd Centre have better than average language outcomes compared to normal hearing children. This program sets them up for better educational outcomes. I look forward to the Shepherd Centre's opening in Campbelltown and I acknowledge the important role the centre plays in my electorate of Werriwa.