Thursday, 20 June 2013
I would like to update the Senate on the important work of a Sydney based charity, the LBW Trust. Whilst I have spoken about the LBW Trust in the Senate previously, I should remind those listening that, although this charity was established by cricket lovers and does the majority of its work in cricket-playing nations and draws most of its support from the generosity of the Australian and international cricket community, in this case 'LBW' stands for 'learning for a better world'.
The LBW Trust's mission is to provide scholarships to economically disadvantaged students in developing cricket-playing countries to help them complete their tertiary or vocational education. The ultimate goal is that, when they graduate or finish their studies, these young men and women will have the opportunity to play an important part in improving their communities and nations. The LBW Trust is unique in that it has no overheads. It has got no office, no employees and no phones. It is run entirely by hardworking volunteers and a very committed board of directors. Every cent raised goes directly to the education of the students it supports.
The trust is currently supporting over 750 students, with a goal of supporting 800 students by the end of this year. All its assistance is delivered through NGO partners. The trust has engaged 10 local NGO partners in seven countries—South Africa, India, Pakistani, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan—in a diverse range of academic pursuits from medicine to business management. A small number of students have been supported to study overseas in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The LBW Trust encourages those students who have studied or gained work experience overseas to reinvest their newly acquired knowledge and skills back in their local communities.
The work of the LBW Trust is growing. Twenty students supported by the trust through Prerana Nurture Merit in Bangalore, India, graduated earlier this year, many with excellent academic results achieved in very trying circumstances. Twenty-year-old Nancy, whose mother has laboured as a housemaid to support her and her sister, graduated and secured a job with global banking and financial services company Deutsche Bank. Prakash, who lived in a slum with his mother and younger brother, has graduated with very high marks and secured an articleship in a chartered accountants firm. Leelavathy, who was to be married at 16 because her family had no chance of paying for her university education, now, with the support of the LBW Trust, has instead scored full marks on her final maths and physics exams in her Bachelor of Science degree and is pursuing her goal of being employed as a science lecturer.
The unrelenting chairman of the trust, Mr Darshak Mehta, recently announced that 188 students are being supported at new vocational training facilities in the provinces of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This program, coordinated in partnership with Yuva Parivartan, specifically targets students who have dropped out of high school or tertiary institutions due to difficult life circumstances. It offers them a second chance of completing their education. In Orissa in eastern India, the trust has, for the second year, renewed its commitment to fund 66 students through the AID Industrial Training Centre. LBW support has helped the AID ITC install necessary equipment so that, next year, courses can be offered in electrical installation, and fitting and turning. A recent external audit of AID ITC's activities reported an impressive expansion of student programs and the positive impact the centre has had on their local community and economy.
In Pakistan the LBW Trust has been working closely with an NGO called The Citizens Foundation supporting 11 scholarship students. These young men and women, mostly based in Karachi, are studying for degrees in a range of fields, including pharmacy, teaching and business administration. Last year the first group of LBW Trust funded students in Uganda graduated. I am delighted to report that all of them found work in their chosen field. This year the trust has committed to supporting 35 students, again, in partnership with the Australian NGO One Village.
In Sri Lanka 50 new scholarships were awarded to students through the Sri Lankan NGO CandleAid. In Afghanistan the trust is supporting three young women—Noornama, Anara and Fatima—who are studying for degrees in medicine. As you would know, Mr President, this is very important in a country striving to empower women and address a severe shortage of female doctors.
Earlier this year it was a great privilege for the LBW Trust to welcome the former Sri Lankan cricket captain and one of the world's greatest players Kumar Sangakkara as a new patron of the LBW Trust. Kumar Sangakkara is in good company. He joins many other distinguished and eminent patrons supporting the great work of the LBW Trust. Kumar Sangakkara, in fact, was the star attraction at the trust's seventh annual dinner, which was held in January this year at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He spoke with great eloquence and conviction at that dinner about his personal life, his cricket and his ambitions for his country.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the LBW Trust on the success of its many programs around the world. They are programs that have positively transformed the lives of so many disadvantaged and underprivileged young men and women and also helped the communities in which they live. I hope that in the months ahead the Australian government will play its part in further supporting the work of the LBW Trust by facilitating its longstanding request to be granted DGR status. The time for that decision is long overdue.