House debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Constituency Statements


4:10 pm

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

On 21 January, I was proud to open the IndigiGrow native bush foods and plant nursery at Matraville Sports High School. IndigiGrow is a thriving First Nations business, established by Peter Cooley and Sarah Martin, specialising in native plants and bush tucker. I have been proud to see it truly flourish in our community. They started out with two employees. They are now up to seven apprentices; all of them are Indigenous, and many of them have come through Matraville Sports High School into this business. They've also got three senior staff members providing meaningful and culturally safe employment for Indigenous people in the La Perouse community. They have developed 15 partnerships with local organisations and businesses, creating more opportunities to grow jobs and provide work experience for school students and apprenticeships for Aboriginal youth. The project is dedicated to the propagation, growth and revival of Australia's native plants and bush food, particularly species from the critically endangered eastern suburbs banksia scrub, with a view to caring for country with respect by cultivating endangered native varieties.

It's been a pleasure to support the growth of IndigiGrow through funding from a number of Commonwealth programs, including a grant for just under half a million dollars through the Strong and Resilient Communities program in 2019 and ongoing support through the Kingsford Smith Stronger Communities grants and volunteer grants programs. The opening of the new wholesale trade nursery and online shop is a significant achievement. IndigiGrow's mission is to empower, to educate and to engage Indigenous youth in culture and connection to country and to teach them how to care for country, helping them to make positive choices about their future. They facilitate volunteering and education sessions for corporates, garden clubs, schools and other groups, as well as educating the broader community about the benefits of growing locally endangered plant species and how people can help restore eastern suburbs banksia scrub by nurturing native plants in their gardens and yards.

I want to thank First Hand Solutions and their team, particularly Pete and Sarah, for this project. It comes on top of the Blak Market that they run at Bare Island on a regular basis. It's a very successful endeavour. They've been in operation for 10 years, and they're working to build resilient Indigenous communities and businesses and help to promote culture, employment and economic development. I'm very proud to be associated with them.