House debates

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Constituency Statements


9:59 am

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

Australia's worsening drought and its social, health and financial implications are being felt right across Australia. As a member representing an outer metropolitan electorate, I've been touched by the number of local residents who've contacted me for advice about how they can support our Australian farmers during this worsening drought. It's a core part of our national identity to pitch in and lend a hand when people are doing it tough. Ordinarily, I organise an annual Christmas morning tea for local seniors, which is a huge event attracting hundreds of people to have some festive fun and join in the Christmas spirit. But, given the recent bushfires and worsening drought, I've decided to do something different this year. I'm donating the usual cost—around $1,000—of organising and hosting the event, which I pay for myself, to Foodbank's drought program, and I'm encouraging local Greenway residents to do the same.

I had the privilege of visiting Foodbank NSW and ACT's processing centre in Western Sydney last week to see these community heroes in action. I want to pay tribute to the wonderful staff and volunteers of Foodbank, who make such a difference to so many lives. In particular, I pay tribute to my good friend John Robertson, who is the Chief Operating Officer of Foodbank New South Wales and ACT.

I also want to single out what Foodbank has been doing; in particular, how its emphasis has shifted, unfortunately, to regional areas and people who are directly and indirectly affected by the drought. Foodbank is the pantry for Australia's charity sector. Seventy per cent—a staggering statistic—of all rescued food provided to Australians in need last year was collected by Foodbank. They are making serious strides in tackling food insecurity. One in five Australians were food insecure at some point in the last 12 months—one in five! Given the financial pressures caused by the drought, rural and regional Australians are now, unfortunately, more likely to slip into food insecurity. Foodbank is doing incredible things, particularly for drought affected communities. This year Foodbank shipped out 15,000 hampers to drought affected communities, and 16,000 hampers will be delivered to Australians in need this Christmas. These hampers include staple items and hygiene products—essentials that will at least partially relieve some of the pressures facing Australian farmers.

On a final note, I want to thank Greenway residents for their support of Foodbank and this initiative. Let's spread some Christmas cheer to our farmers, who are really doing it tough. I wish all of my constituency and all of Foodbank's beneficiaries a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.