Senate debates

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Fred Hollows Foundation

6:55 pm

Photo of John FaulknerJohn Faulkner (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Fred Hollows Foundation envisages a world where no-one is needlessly blind. I have spoken on numerous occasions in this chamber about the great work of the Fred Hollows Foundation in the prevention and treatment of blindness around the world. This work could not be done without the strong support of many in our community who share the foundation's objectives.

The Sydney Coastrek event has become a vital fundraising vehicle for the Fred Hollows Foundation, as well as developing a reputation as a testing and challenging endurance event in its own right. On Friday, 28 February this year, a record 2,800 trekkers from all over Australia took part in the 2014 Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek, the 50-kilometre or 100-kilometre team challenge.

The Sydney Coastrek tracks the stunning and picturesque Sydney coastline, taking in national parks and iconic Sydney landmarks, such as the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Bondi Beach and Sydney Heads. Teams of four, which must include at least two women, have the option of walking 50 kilometres from Palm Beach to Balmoral or 50 kilometres from Balmoral to Coogee or the full 100 kilometres from Palm Beach to Coogee. It is a challenging course across the soft sand of ocean and harbour beaches, steep climbs and descents along headlands and cliff tops, creek crossings, bush trails and, of course, suburban streets.

Our team, Achilles50, comprised a totally blind walker, Ben Phillips, whose achievements in long-distance walking are well known to senators; Felolina    Tumataiki and Carla Lever; and yours truly. I am happy to inform the Senate that we completed the 50-kilometre hike from Balmoral to Coogee in a commendable 13 hours and 29 minutes. Of course, thanks goes to our fantastic support crew who really gave us a lot of support throughout the event.

Congratulations also go to the Wild Women on Top Lunachicks team, who finished the event in 12 hours and 10 minutes, and our Senate Chamber attendant, Rebecca Herringe, who is very well known to all of us in the chamber, was again a member of that team. Congratulations to her and the other members of the Lunachiks. I am happy to inform the Senate that as of a few minutes ago, the 2014 Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek had raised a record $2,572,712 for the crucial work of the Fred Hollows Foundation, exceeding its target of $2.5 million and smashing last year's record of $1.7 million.

I do want to acknowledge the great work of Di Westaway and all the Wild Women on Top team who coordinate this event for the Fred Hollows Foundation. I want also to thank the 200 volunteers and 40 event staff who made this year's Coastrek so memorable—a big thank you to them all. Finally, I should say to those who are still interested that it is not too late to donate. It is probably never too late to donate, but if anybody would like to donate to the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation, please visit the Sydney Coastrek website, hit the 'donate now' button and I particularly encourage people to search for the Achilles50 team or the Lunachiks team, because, and remember this: all donations, big or small, are greatly appreciated and all go, of course, to the critically important work of ensuring that no-one is needlessly blind.