House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Constituency Statements

Franklin Electorate: Neighbourhood Houses

9:58 am

Photo of Julie CollinsJulie Collins (Franklin, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Small Business) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to speak today about the important work that neighbourhood houses do right across the country and give a particular shout-out to the neighbourhood houses in my electorate. As a member of federal parliament, I've been visiting neighbourhood houses in my community for 15 years now, talking to them about issues impacting their local communities and seeing the important work that they do to support their local communities, particularly those in the community that are doing it tough. We had a recent visit to a More than a Free Lunch event in Warrane Mornington neighbourhood house, where people come along and learn to cook simple, nutritious and affordable meals—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 09:5 9 to 10:14

At the Geeveston community centre, known by locals as GeCo, I heard how the centre is helping one particular young community member who's working hard to complete her high-school education and regularly travels to GeCo to use the internet to attend classes remotely.

I want to talk today about another project at the Clarendon Vale Neighbourhood Centre and the Clarence Plains community shed. It's a program called Petit Angels. It's about little coffins for stillborn babies. The group builds the little wooden coffins, and they're decorated by locals at the community shed. Sue, Marie and a group of volunteers painstakingly line the coffins, which go to the Royal Hobart Hospital for parents who have experienced the tragic miscarriage of a child before the 20-week gestational period, who otherwise wouldn't have access to such a service. Parents who are dealing with these horrific circumstances often feel isolated and alone, and it's not often talked about openly, but the grief and the loss is very, very real, and these handmade, bespoke coffins go a long way to providing dignity and respect to the baby that is lost but also to the parents and the family who are working through their trauma.

This is a terrific project that is being run by this community group. They have recently been fundraising to buy an embroidery machine to help create the interior linings of the little coffins and to allow Sue, who does most of the embroidery work, to pass on her extraordinary skills to the others so that they can scale up their operation to provide more coffins to the hospitals, because they're so critically needed. I was pleased to personally support this project. We also contacted some of the local funeral homes, who I'm pleased to say are now supporting the project. I want to thank Millingtons Funerals & Cemeteries and Philip Stephens Funerals, as well as other members of parliament who have joined to make a donation towards the cost of the new embroidery machine. It's so wonderful to see my local community, particularly this local community, giving back to others. I want to see this project really grow and expand, and I want to do a big call-out to the neighbourhood centres and community centres right across our electorates.