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Thursday, 30 September 2010
Page: 375

Mr SYMON (4:55 PM) —As this is my first opportunity in this parliament, may I congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your re-election as Speaker of the House. I look forward to your patient guidance and knowledge of the standing orders and House of Representatives Practice, which far exceeds mine. I seek to learn a lot more from you during the term of this parliament.

I would like to make the House aware of an important local event in my electorate which I was privileged to attend last Friday. On 24 September 2010, I was invited to attend the 100th birthday celebration of Loreen Bray, who is now a local resident of Deakin. A 100th birthday is quite a rare event. I had a look at the 2006 census numbers for how many people in my electorate are 100 years of age or over. Out of 120,000 people, there is a huge figure of 30! So it is quite a momentous occasion which does not come up very often. I think I am going to have a few more 100 birthdays to attend because, whilst looking at those figures, I noted that Deakin has a much higher than average percentage of people over the age of 65. Indeed, in Deakin that percentage is now at 17.3 per cent, four per cent above the national average. In my time I think I will get to attend a few more 100 birthdays—I hope there are many.

Loreen and her family were celebrating the big day at Forest Hill Retirement Village, a wonderful facility. I have been there on occasions before. Rather than being a high-care facility, it is a place where people live independently in their own little units, sharing common facilities. They have great friendships and bonds. The day I was there, some of them had to leave the party because they were going into the city to see a production of Mamma Mia!. They were dressed up in Abba gear and that was a pretty good sight to see.

Being a birthday party there was food and a few celebratory drinks. I had the great honour of presenting Loreen with a certificate and a congratulatory letter on behalf of the constituents of Deakin. That was a particularly nice moment. With me also was the state member for Mitcham, Tony Robinson. He has a long association with the retirement village. I have been down there with him before when we had various other events.

Loreen was born to Ellen and Sydney Austin in Mildura, Victoria, on 24 September 1910. That seems so long ago. She was the youngest of seven girls and at the age of 13 her family moved to Melbourne. Loreen moved to Armadale after her marriage to Bert Bray and then settled in Box Hill South. Loreen has always been a big part of the local community in Box Hill South, being an active member of Box Hill Legacy, War Widows the Garden Club and Probus. Since she moved to Forest Hill last November, she has made new friends and actively participates in the many activities held at the retirement village and beyond. I have to admire Loreen. I could not believe that she is 100 years of age—she looks about 30 years younger. I hope I look even half as good at three-quarters her age.

Loreen’s family are very close. They constantly visit her at Forest Hill Retirement Village. On the big day a huge contingent of her family were there. It was a truly great occasion. When asked for her secret to a long life she said she never owned a car and still walks everywhere, keeping active and fit. That was the day before the first AFL grand final. There were large amounts of black and white stuff around, which I avoided, and there were large amounts of black, red and white stuff around, which I made sure I stayed close to. I certainly hope that the residents of the village have it all out again this week and are cheering on St Kilda to a win in the rematch of the grand final. I hope to go back many times in the future, not only for 100 birthdays but for other special occasions.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 5 pm, the debate is interrupted.