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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13249


Ms O'NEIL (Hotham) (13:58): Although the children and teenagers in our electorates are not yet old enough to vote, we still provide a voice for them in the federal parliament. Earlier this year, I launched the Hotham Writing Prize, inviting primary and secondary school students in Hotham to write to me about issues that they care about. Today, I want the House to join with me in congratulating Louisa D'Ambra of St Marks Primary School Dingley Village as the junior winner of the inaugural Hotham Writing Prize. Louisa wrote to me about homelessness. She said that while most young people are not directly affected by homelessness, it is an issue that is really on the minds of the young people of Australia.

My office received hundreds of entries, and it was very difficult to make a decision about who should be the winner, but Louisa's entry really stood out for me due to the clarity of her letter and the vividness through which she described her passion. Many of us in this chamber are used to speaking at writing at length, and it was amazing to get these incredible letters from young people like Louisa and see the way that they were able to explain what they cared about in such clear language. She said:

Imagine what it would be like in Melbourne's boiling summer and freezing winter. Think about what it is like siting on cold concrete begging for money, most of the time collecting no more than a few dollars a day.

Louisa recognises that actions often speak louder than words. To that end, she is donating some of her prize to a charity that helps young homeless Australians. Louisa and the other students at St Mark's Primary School, I am inspired by your commitment and I am very proud to be your voice in the federal parliament.

The SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 43, the time for members' statements has concluded.