Thursday, 17 February 2022
As the 46th Parliament approaches its final days, I want to take this moment to acknowledge the remarkable resilience of the Fraser community throughout this long, multiyear pandemic. There are so many wonderful community organisations around Fraser which have done so much to support people across that community over the last couple of years. They are all deserving of thanks for their contributions, which have strengthened our community and helped so many people get by during such a difficult time. Organisations throughout Fraser stepped up to provide every manner of support to people in need, at a time when people increasingly found themselves experiencing hardship. Volunteer organisations like The Humble Mission and many Vietnamese organisations and other multicultural organisations provided emergency relief in the form of meals and essential clothing, hygiene and bedding products, and helping those members of the community who were at their most vulnerable. These organisations were often the last resort for people who were isolated from family and other supports—the last resort for people to get essential services and essential goods.
I would like to acknowledge and thank Western Health and all the frontline workers involved in confronting the enormous health challenges we have faced over the last two years. I think it is particularly important to acknowledge the sacrifices made and the risks undertaken by frontline workers who risked exposure and heightened levels of stress to help vulnerable people throughout the community. This also applies to our emergency services workers—to workers in ambulances, to the police, to fire. It also applies to other sectors that have often gone under the radar in the past—like our retail workers, who often put themselves in harm's way to make sure people throughout the community could access essential goods and services. According to the Australian Psychological Society, frontline workers suffer an increased likelihood of depression, anxiety and other mental health distress. Their resilience has been remarkable.
Western Health has also played a significant role in supporting the vaccine rollout across my electorate, along with local school and community organisations who lent space and time to achieve the vaccination targets and keep our community safe and open. I also want to give a big shout-out to many other organisations—for example, Big Sams market, which currently has a vax pop-up. Many organisations throughout the community are facilitating the vaccination rollout. With vaccination rates for schoolchildren and booster rates still nowhere near where we need them, there's so much more to be done.
As a parent, I also want to recognise the significant effort invested by teachers and leaders of school community across my electorate and beyond to deliver high-quality online learning and the flexibility and professionalism with which they've approached every new problem posed to them. The pandemic has presented unique challenges, and the teachers and school leadership of Fraser have faced them admirably.
I also want to highlight the resounding success of the Lunar New Year celebrations across Fraser and Melbourne's broader west. I want to point in particular to the St Albans Lunar New Year Festival, organised by the St Albans Business Group Association, which I attended last week. Thank you to all the organisers, volunteers, participants and attendees who made it possible to hold this festival in person this year. Last year, this event had to occur via video. Apparently, over half a million hits occurred on the website, so it still resonated with people and still meant a lot to people. But this year's festival was able to be held in person, and I want to thank all the people who made that possible. It meant so much to people to be able to see the dancing lions and the fireworks in person. Over 80,000 people attended this one-day festival, which is a remarkable testament to how much people want to attend events in person together to reconnect with each other.
The Vietnamese community plays a significant role throughout the community of Fraser and Melbourne's west, contributing massively to our cultural diversity. The Lunar New Year festivals in St Albans, in Footscray and in many other settings have been the perfect celebration of both the cultural diversity of Fraser and us returning to life and feeling more normal. I want to thank the many Vietnamese community groups for their leadership throughout the last two years connecting people at a time when they were at their most isolated. There are too many to mention them all, but the ones that stand out include the Australian Vietnamese Women's Association, Vietnamese Community in Australia and Australian Vietnamese Arts. Fraser plays home to more than 30,000 Vietnamese Australians, and their contribution to our community cannot be overstated.