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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9742

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (11:58): I start by congratulating the member for Banks for moving this motion to acknowledge the work of community service organisations. You can see by the number of members who have put their names down to speak just how important a motion it is. It gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to those many hundreds of community groups in our electorates. The strength of a community depends on the strength of the community groups that operate within it. If you do not have strong communities with strong community groups, your community is a much poorer place. These community groups cover all aspects of community life and support the needs of those communities across a very wide range of areas.

I notice that we have some Indigenous students here in our parliament today. They come from all around the country. They are working with members of parliament. I pay tribute to the Indigenous groups that operate within the communities that we represent. I make mention of Courtney Johnson, who will be working with me here in parliament. A community's resilience depends on the strength of community groups. The member for Banks identified a number of those groups, including family, youth and children's services. There is a very strong group that supports grandparents within my electorate, one of the leaders in that area. Community groups make up for the deficits of government agencies that operate to provide that support. When the government agencies fail, community groups provide that support. There are health, ageing and disability services. The things that make the life of people living in aged-care facilities are the visits that from community groups that come along and entertain, sing and help with all those little fundraising activities.

I would also like to pay tribute to the East Lake Macquarie Dementia Service. It provides support for people with dementia and respite for carers within the Shortland electorate. It is an absolutely fantastic service. It should be a model for every service that operates throughout Australia. It has excellent staff. But the real strength of that service is the wonderful management committee, which has been responsible for getting funding to build a new facility. People regularly come in and work there on a volunteer basis with the elderly people suffering from dementia.

The member for Banks mentioned education and training. Any member who has had anything to do with a school in their electorate knows that the strength of a school comes from the P&C; the school council; those people who make the commitment to go along and work in the tuckshop on a weekly, monthly or whatever basis; those people who get in there and fundraise for the school; and those dedicated community members or mums and dads who come along and help with reading, who help those students who struggle a little bit more than others.

The final area the member for Banks touched on in point (2) of his motion was sports and recreation. Every junior sports group is manned by volunteers, as is the surf-lifesaving movement that keeps our beaches safe over summer.

Where would we be without volunteers? Community groups provide strength to the communities that we represent in this parliament. Every member of parliament recognises and appreciates the fine work that is done by community groups in their electorate. The government recognises that by providing community grants, volunteer grants and the Community Investment Program. I would like to conclude by thanking, yet again, the member for Banks for bringing this motion to the House. (Time expired)