Thursday, 13 February 2020
The people of Werriwa are a constant source of inspiration, whether it's the schoolchildren and their teachers at presentation days, when I have the opportunity to visit the schools in my electorate, or volunteer groups whose front-of-mind responsibility is to make sure that everyone has opportunities in our community and on the sporting fields and a warm meal when they are too old to prepare it themselves, when they are escaping from violence or when they are homeless.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those community groups, schools and volunteers who take the time to speak to me, welcome me to their community events and trust me to listen to them and tell their stories here. Over the past few months, there have been many people for whose work in our community I'd like to put my thanks on the record. One of these people is Mrs Wilma Falcone of Cecil Hills. Mrs Falcone was awarded the Public Service Medal in the recent Australia Day awards for outstanding public service to the social housing sector in New South Wales. Since 1997 Mrs Falcone has been working on social housing projects that have delivered over 23,000 homes for the less fortunate. Her history since 1997 of working with social housing shows the highest dedication to the Public Service. I congratulate her on being recognised for her work by being awarded the Public Service Medal and for her dedication to the people of New South Wales.
On Australia Day the local councils also recognised other outstanding citizens for their influence and work in our community. Liverpool City Council recognised citizen of the year Rajesh Venkataramaiah, senior citizen of the year Bob Brassell, young citizen of the year Kira Rosch, the Fraser environment award winner Maree Stacy and small business award winner Wild FX, and the Macquarie award went to Pino Sgambellone. Campbelltown Council recognised Emma Macfarlane as its citizen of the year and Riley Tonna as the young citizen of the year. Fairfield Council recognised Andy Snook as the citizen of the year, Blanca Assunta Barrios as the young citizen of the year, Kath Whiteley as volunteer of the year, Douglas Draper as volunteer of the year and Fabian Monge as sports achiever of the year. I thank and congratulate all those who were recognised.
It was also a pleasure to be invited to attend the annual presentation of the Iraqi Australian University Graduates Forum. The forum is a not-for-profit, non-religious, non-political community organisation that celebrates the differences amongst members and brings all the Iraqi ethnicities together to provide support for refugees and newly arrived people who settle in our community. The forum provides social programs. One of those recognises high achievers at both university and Higher School Certificate level. On the night, there were seven university graduates and 21 HSC high achievers recognised. A number of those attended schools in the electorate of Werriwa. It was a pleasure to add my congratulations to Mary Kate of Thomas Hassall Anglican College, Jenna Farhan of Clancy Catholic College, Fahad Al-Maree of All Saints Catholic College, Abdolh Alshamlaan of Al Faisal College, Zeineb Fozan from Amity College High School, Luke Lazar of Freeman Catholic College, Abraham Takriti of Good Samaritan Catholic College and Musa Musa of Freeman Catholic College. I congratulate them all for their fine achievements and wish them the very best in their future endeavours.
It was also a pleasure to attend and join in the very colourful and sometimes very loud celebrations for Chinese New Year at the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society at the Mingyue Lay temple in Bonnyrigg. The crowd that was observing the first day of the Lunar New Year saw not only the traditional dragon dances and some fireworks but many cultural dances and songs. There was a stunning performance of the national anthem as well as Australian and Chinese music by the New South Wales Police Band. I would like to thank all the volunteers and the board of the temple for another superbly run event. I've been lucky enough to attend these events for a number of years, and the precision of organisation and the detail the organisers go to to make everybody welcome is amazing. I would especially like to thank the chairman, Mr James Chan, and the president, Mr Vincent Khong, for the invitation this year and for making me so welcome. I also congratulate all the volunteers, who had very little sleep leading up to the event, especially on the night before.