House debates

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Constituency Statements

Gellibrand Electorate: Australia Day Awards, Ovarian Cancer

10:30 am

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications and Cyber Security) Share this | | Hansard source

Last month, two members of my community were awarded Australia Day honours, and I would like to offer my congratulations to them here. George Said was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to our community in Hobsons Bay. George is a well-known and well-loved figure in our community, and he has a truly inspirational story. In 1956 George fled Egypt for Britain during the Suez Canal crisis and eventually came to Australia in 1962 via the '10-pound Pom' scheme. When he arrived in Altona, George says that he was the only Greek in Altona that could read and write English. He took that as a duty and an obligation. Again, he has given decades of long service in building the Greek Orthodox community. We've been talking a lot about the importance of community throughout the COVID pandemic in Victoria and the need to know your neighbour, and George has been a champion of this for decades. The community in my electorate has a very strong community vibe, and it's thanks to people like George, who decided 15 years ago that people should know their neighbour in Hobsons Bay. He started the Seaholme Sustainability Street to bring neighbours together and to help improve the local environment at the same time. George knows the importance of community, and it's fitting that he's been recognised for it. George is one of those citizens that members of this parliament would be well aware of. He just seems to be everywhere in our community. His service to multiculturalism and the community in Hobsons Bay will long outlive his time on this earth.

Another very worthy recipient was Williamstown local Paula Benson, who was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant services to people living with ovarian cancer and for business. Paula is a tireless advocate in fighting ovarian cancer and will be very well-known to many members in this building for her Teal Ribbon Day breakfasts. Paula was one of the 46 per cent of women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and reached the five-year survival point. It's because of this that she dedicated her time and expertise to helping fight the deadliest female cancer, which kills one woman every eight hours. She served Ovarian Cancer Australia in many board roles from 2007 to 2018, after her own battle with ovarian cancer, including a seven-year stint as its chair. During her stewardship, Ovarian Cancer Australia achieved remarkable things, including developing and implementing Australia's first national action plan for ovarian cancer research, and securing government funding for prevention and awareness programs.

It's fitting, then, that I make this speech during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which Paula instigated. Thanks in no small part to her efforts, Ovarian Cancer Australia announced this month that researchers believe they are closer than ever to finding a cure. I encourage everyone in this chamber to help her raise awareness for ovarian cancer this month and to support Ovarian Cancer Australia's efforts.

Congratulations to Paula and George for your highly deserved recognition in this year's Australia Day awards. The whole community of Melbourne's west thanks you for your service to our community and the nation as a whole.