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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 13031


Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (21:30): Once again I am pleased to report on the particulars of a successful community project that was voluntarily initiated by two individuals who work in my electorate—by two groups, but it was these two individuals that brought it together. It is a project which essentially involves a buddy system between primary school children and residents of a nursing home who suffer dementia. The health and educational benefits yielded thus far from this good Samaritan venture, called the Bupa project, have been outstanding to say the least.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Bupa Morphettville Aged Care Facility to join in the celebrations of the Vinnies Emmanuel Bailly Award for social justice that was being presented to students of the Forbes Primary School in South Plympton in my electorate. It was truly a heart-warming experience to see young students and senior residents gathered together to share their stories of positive engagement and to witness the bonds of trust and friendship that have clearly developed between the generations during this project.

I found this project, and its lasting benefits, to be especially heartening for me as the chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing. This volunteer program is the brainchild of two very close friends: a Forbes school teacher, Jane Opie, and the Care Manager of Bupa Morphettville, Robyn Caruso.

I am told that this project initially started out with four schoolchildren from Forbes visiting the high-care dementia unit every Tuesday to engage with senior residents, to interact through conversation and various activities and to experience firsthand what it means to care for someone living with dementia. Some of the residents have no visitors apart from these children. Some of the children are from different ethnic backgrounds and do not have any grandparents here in Australia, so the two groups bond very well. The number of children who actively participate in this wonderful educational project has now reached a total of 70 students.

The value and benefits of this buddy system, the Bupa project, has certainly surpassed the expectations of all those involved. Language, mobility, self-esteem and overall wellbeing seem to have been stimulated bilaterally, and even improved in many cases. Senior residents suffering dementia and students from a cross-section of socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities gained a lot out of it.

This important award ceremony was certainly enjoyed by all those closely involved in the Bupa project, and by the attending visitors. I had the honour of speaking that day, as did: the Mayor of Marion, Felicity-Ann Lewis; ABC radio presenter, Peter Goers; Carolyn Wood, Manager of Bupa Morphettville; Carol Allen, Principal of Forbes Primary School; Cath MacDonald, operations manager; and, of course, a number of students from Forbes.

Just as I congratulated all those who are proactively involved in this amazing and highly commendable project on the day of the awards celebration, I stand here today and again extend my congratulations and most sincere wishes for a bright and productive future to the management, staff and, most importantly, to the students of the Bupa project and the residents of the Bupa nursing home.

I am not at all surprised that this buddy program continues to expand. It now involves 70 children who eagerly look forward to attending the Bupa aged care facility each week. I am also certain the nursing home residents who have equally enjoyed the regular interactions with the younger generation will continue to appreciate the many benefits of this dynamic program.

Finally, may I say that I welcome and commend the initiation of such worthwhile social justice projects which clearly demonstrate the long-term benefits and healthy rewards of positive human relationships that can be established across generations and between all age groups. There is much to be learned from helping each other and volunteering our services in today's fast paced society.

There is a similar project in my electorate; this one between the Lockleys senior citizens and Lockleys Primary School. (Time expired)