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Wednesday, 30 November 2005
Page: 152

Mrs MAY (9:33 AM) —This morning I would like to congratulate Mr Jim Bullen, Mr Des LaRance and the members of the Rotary Club of Surfers Sunrise on the tremendous work they have undertaken in sending overseas wheelchairs made from bicycle parts. The club is currently in the process of sending a 20-foot container to Hanoi holding 137 of these wheelchairs. These wheelchairs are destined for children in Hanoi and North Vietnam who have been affected by landmines and Agent Orange. Unfortunately many of these children are very crippled. They are unable to walk and have no way of getting around their local communities. A number of the children who have been affected by Agent Orange do not have any coordination, and they cannot wheel themselves around. Some of the wheelchairs have been fitted with seatbelts and handles to enable the children to be wheeled around by their families.

The wheelchairs are made from bicycle parts, and these are collected from all over the Gold Coast. A great number of people donate unused bikes that have been sitting in backyards and garages. The bikes are brought into the Rotary Club, and that is where the work begins. The work that has been undertaken in the last few years has made it possible to send 48 wheelchairs to Dili, 60 to Vanuatu and approximately 500 to South Vietnam. This is the first time a container load of these bikes has been sent to North Vietnam.

Jim Bullen is a member of the Rotary Club and he has made his own personal contribution to this project: over the last seven years, he has been involved in making 710 wheelchairs. I think that is a tremendous effort on the part of one man, who has been doing this from his own backyard. He is a former pilot with the RAAF, and he has said that making these wheelchairs was one of the most satisfying things he has ever done in his life. He has been to Dili himself and has seen what a difference these wheelchairs make to those young people.

I would also like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Bruce Billson, for his support in sending these wheelchairs to Hanoi. Through the Australian government overseas aid branch of AusAID, he was able to arrange assistance in sending this container load of wheelchairs made from bicycles to Hanoi. AusAID have taken on board the transport costs. This has certainly taken a huge burden off the Rotary Club. It means that they can work in the future to continue making their wheelchairs from bicycles to help the young people who so desperately need them in overseas countries. So, to Jim and all those at the Rotary Club of Surfers Sunrise, congratulations, and my sincere thanks to the Hon. Bruce Billson for the part he has played in ensuring that these wheelchairs have made it to Hanoi.