House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Statements by Members

Bruce Electorate: Living Treasures

4:15 pm

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to pay tribute and express our community's love and appreciation to two living treasures of the city of greater Dandenong, so awarded on Australia Day: my dear friends Youhorn Chea and Roz Blades AM. They've lived their lives for other people. Roz was mayor four times. She served on the council from 1997 to 2019 and, before that, for the City of Springvale from 1987 to 1994. She arrived in 1969, with Terry, from the UK—young ratbag advocates and activists—and she's ever since lived in the same house in Noble Park, sticking up for the most vulnerable in the community and fighting for the rights of others. She's been on the school council, on the kindy committee and on the hospital board. She set up the south-east polio network when polio was coming back. She's just a wonderful human being.

To Youhorn Chea—a triumphant Australian story. Youhorn arrived as a refugee from Cambodia. He lived in refugee camps; he brought his four kids; he fled the Pol Pot genocidal regime. He came speaking Khmer and French, taught himself English, worked in the community, was the first Cambodian Australian elected to local government and then served as mayor four times. He's still President of the Cambodian Association of Victoria. He fights for refugee causes. He's the most humble, gentle man, given what more I know of his life story. But most importantly, he's led the whole community. He's done the whole community proud. To both of these two, their status as living treasures—a very special thing in our community—is well deserved. We offer all our love and appreciation for your years of service.