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Thursday, 26 June 2003
Page: 17846


Mr BALDWIN (12:55 PM) —Mr Deputy Speaker, as a member in this House you would agree with me that each and every member of parliament is fortunate to represent an electorate. Indeed, we are all passionate about and committed to our electorates, and each of us believes that our electorate is the best. I am fortunate also because of the people I have in my electorate. One chap, Ross Pressgrave, is a passionate man; he is passionate about his community like no other I have ever seen. For that passion and for his commitment to his community, Ross Pressgrave was awarded Paterson Citizen of the Year earlier this year for his work as chairman of the Forster-Tuncurry branch of Diabetes Australia. Ross gives of his time freely and generously. He gives his all in order to achieve outcomes for his community.

Recently, Ross put together a meeting with a chap called Adam Sherman, who is the manager of McDonald's in Forster, to sit down and have a chat. We sat there and spoke about young kids who are affected by diabetes, cancer and other serious and debilitating diseases and injuries. The idea was put forward to construct some holiday cabins for sick children in Forster. Forster is a prime tourism spot, so land right where the action is is very difficult to come by. We are fortunate that the Forster Beach Caravan Park overlooking Wallis Lake has an area that will hopefully be set aside for the construction of these four cabins. The caravan park is right at the gateway to the Great Lakes.

These cabins will provide sick children, who have a range of illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, with the opportunity to have a holiday with their family. This area is safe for swimming and fishing. It will provide a great opportunity for a relaxing holiday for these families at a very low cost. When you have sick children, the cost drain on a family can be exorbitant. People go without, and the first thing they will go without is recreational time or holidays with their children.

A team has been brought together including Ross Presgrave and Adam Sherman, and also Deputy Mayor Jan McWilliams, Councillor Vic Jeffrey and solicitor Lorrie Hagan. I am fortunate that they have asked me to be the patron. Over time I am sure that hundreds if not thousands of people will help put this project together. They are currently seeking approval through the Department of Land and Water Conservation to use this crown land. They are seeking approval and support from council, which I understand is being given. Finally, we will go to the community for financial support.

I reiterate that Ross and Adam have been the main drivers of this project. There is only one facility of this kind in Australia for diabetic children: Fiona's House in Batemans Bay. We are on the mid North Coast and we need to provide a facility for people in the north. There is a definite need for families and kids who may not be able to afford a holiday, due to health costs, to be given a break. They are going through enormous emotional, physical and financial strain. Ross's own grandson, who is now nine years of age, had cancer at a very early age. His mother also had cancer. These are the sorts of motivating factors that drive a person like Ross Presgrave to do what he does. He does this through the Diabetes Association—in particular, helping kids with diabetes.

Our community is now rallying behind this cause. There is another young chap, Aaron Moase, who, by sheer coincidence, became the young citizen of the year in Paterson this year. The independent evaluation committee that assessed these awards thought that what Aaron was doing in raising money for diabetes as a junior some 120 kilometres away was a great effort. On 21 September this year Aaron Moase intends to hold a bicycle ride to raise more money and he has committed part of that money towards diabetes and Ronald McDonald House.

On 20 August this year the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is coming to our parliament. Some 100 young children with type 1 diabetes and their carers will be coming here to meet politicians and give us a better understanding of the problems they have. They will be flown in by Qantas at no cost. The event will be sponsored by Medibank Private. We are all fortunate to have great electorates, but we are more fortunate to have within those electorates people committed to their communities who provide the support, determination and drive to achieve.