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Thursday, 16 October 2008
Page: 9475

FRAN BAILEY (12:49 PM) —I wish to acknowledge the inspiring contributions being made by two communities in my electorate of McEwen. The people making these contributions are volunteers, typical of the tremendous spirit found in country towns, where residents simply just get on with it and pitch in and get things done. They are legends of their local communities. One of these legends I have had the pleasure of working with for quite a few years is Mr Sergio Prado of Seymour.

Sergio came to me a number of years ago with a vision of transforming a youth and fitness centre in Seymour, helping in particular really disadvantaged youth. I am very pleased to say that I was able to assist Sergio and his committee in getting $100,000 of Regional Partnerships funding plus two very dilapidated buildings that the Department of Defence no longer wanted. That formed the basis of transforming condemned buildings into what today proudly stands as the Seymour Youth and Fitness Centre.

Sergio devotes countless hours to the town’s youth and fitness centre. Many of the improvements made at this community hub are a result of Sergio’s vision, as I mentioned, and unselfish contribution towards creating opportunities for young people. At an age when many of his contemporaries are retiring and perhaps focusing on bowls and doing the garden, Sergio is not considering retirement. He supports the youth centre and sustains that pursuit by working part-time in one of the local supermarkets. He is a man of great humility, and it was a special moment for Sergio when the Seymour Youth and Fitness Centre was awarded the Community-Local Government Partnership Award for Victoria in the 26th Sustainable Communities-Tidy Towns awards. The leadership and dedication of Sergio and his team of volunteers at the centre reflect Seymour’s community spirit. It is a privilege to work with him and his wonderful team.

Across in Gisborne there is a similar group of people displaying those same hallmarks behind building fantastic country communities. A few years the Gisborne Region Events, Activities and Tourism Committee, known as GREAT, was formed. GREAT has since been responsible for many fine achievements. Its monthly markets raise money for investing in community projects and continue to bring benefits not just to the community but by empowering the people working in the local organisations.

One of the greatest contributions to the local community has been the publication and distribution of the monthly Gisborne Gazette. People of all ages collect their bundles of magazines on the designated day and walk around this growing community to deliver the gazette to each and every household and business. The pride of their involvement—and the fitness and agility that comes with the regular exercise—is matched by the pride and passion of those who contribute articles to the magazine with good news stories. The gazette communicates cohesiveness, it keeps people informed, but most importantly, it keeps local people involved in their local community. For the committee of GREAT, which established the gazette four years ago—and the editor, the desktop publishers, the contributors and, most importantly, those monthly walkers—this publication simply typifies community passion and engagement. Earlier this month it was my pleasure to recognise the efforts of these volunteers with the presentation of special certificates of appreciation. These are just two organisations within my huge, vast and diverse electorate of McEwen.

In the very few seconds that are left I also want to mention the Bonnie Babes Foundation National Babies Day launch today, which, along with many of our colleagues from all parties, I had the privilege of attending at the front of Parliament House. This day acknowledges the counselling work that the Bonnie Babes Foundation provides. Four out of 10 parents suffer miscarriages or stillbirths, one in 20 have premature babies. This organisation, with the support of Target, helps many families. (Time expired)