House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Constituency Statements

BlazeAid, Turbans 4 Australia

10:25 am

Photo of Kristy McBainKristy McBain (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The challenges of 2020 have highlighted the painful fragility of our human existence, and of our human structures and way of being. We must harness the fear and helplessness that comes with that and deliver solutions for our future. Inspired by the community leadership that has also been such a large part of 2020, I rise to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of two groups whose empathy and can-do attitude has been a beacon for the values that take us forward.

Many will be familiar with the work of BlazeAid. Since the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, this army of volunteers has restored fences in paddocks wiped out by natural disaster. This year, in the mighty Eden-Monaro, BlazeAid has played a pivotal role in rebuilding after our Black Summer. We've played host to camps in Braidwood, Cobargo, Towamba, Bemboka, Tumbarumba, Adelong and Bombala. The Braidwood community farewelled BlazeAid last week. A total of 444 people pitched in, providing assistance worth an estimated $1.8 million to 265 properties. The numbers are just as impressive at all other camps.

These volunteers come from all walks of life and from right around the world. Some 32 different countries were represented at Braidwood. They travelled to some of the most remote and isolated parts of Eden-Monaro to kickstart our recovery and renewal. On top of that, their presence and interest gave such a lift to people doing it tough. While the camps at Bombala, Bemboka and Braidwood have now closed, there is still much to do. Thank you to those who have given so freely of their time. We look forward to paying forward our contribution. I encourage anyone looking for hope or looking to make a contribution to volunteer at one of the remaining camps. Head to the BlazeAid website.

As International Volunteer Day approaches, Turbans 4 Australia deserve a special mention. Turbans 4 Australia is a Sikh charity that helps anyone in need regardless of their race, religion and ethnicity. This band of good hearts and hands, which has a group based out of Queanbeyan, made meals and food hampers for visa holders left jobless and without government assistance in the darkest days of COVID-19. With bushfire smoke still in the air, they also travelled to the scarred communities of Eden-Monaro to cook meals, share their brand of mateship and deliver two semitrailer loads of water, groceries, toiletries and tools to help farmers. Now, with Christmas approaching, they are organising a toy run for families in the Bega Valley. Some of those who have benefited from the assistance offered by Turbans 4 Australia have returned to offer their own time and energy in the effort and to extend a helping hand.

In an increasingly divided world, the work of these groups inspires us to be tolerant and inclusive. It's a contribution that inspires my work and, I hope, the work of the wider community as we all look to make the experiences of 2020 count in the future.