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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9756


Mr HUSIC (ChifleyGovernment Whip) (12:57): I am really pleased to have this opportunity to speak on this motion on community based organisations. I think both sides feel very strongly, regardless of their politics, about the value of people being able to join together in their local communities to improve the lives of the people who live within those communities. Their day-to-day existence is boosted and benefited by the work done by a range of different community groups. These groups may have their focus on a whole range of different areas. As contributors have reflected on today, they could be sporting groups, veteran groups, environmental groups or groups who help newly arrived migrants boost their contribution to Australian society, like those I have been associated with. All of these groups, regardless of their focus, have the overriding objective of helping in some way, shape or form people engage in their local community.

Certainly from my perspective diversity is one of the greatest strengths in our communities as a result of the different groups that exist and operate on a day-to-day basis. As a country our national identity is based on mutual respect and shared values, and I see this on a day-to-day basis in the electorate of Chifley, having worked with and engaged with many community groups across the various neighbourhoods that make up Chifley. I have seen and made lasting connections and friendships along the way in Chifley. I want to particularly highlight a number of groups I have had the pleasure of being associated with.

I am especially focused on and have a personal interest in technology, especially the rollout of the NBN and the way it provides people with an opportunity to engage with the internet. I note that the member for Ryan is here. Recently we were involved in the major inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications that looked at the projected benefits of the NBN on a range of regional communities. One group I want to mention in the time allowed is Computer Pals Blacktown. I want to congratulate Wendy Lambert and her volunteers in carrying out its mission, which is to help people over the age of 45 become familiar with computers, with IT technology. For many people of an older generation, who may have been in workplaces that had no reliance on PCs, laptops, BlackBerries or iPhones, the issue of technology is quite confronting. That particular community group, Computer Pals, takes people in and shows them right from the start how to turn on a computer, how to work their way around a computer and then how to determine the best things to get out of that—for example, typing up resumes, connecting to others through Skype or videoconferencing, a concept they may never have thought possible. Up to that point they relied on telephones. To then be able to use that as a means of communicating is a total eye-opener.

Computer Pals is not just a facility for senior Australians; it is also a group that has helped, for instance, people who are still in the workforce and who are 45 years plus. For example, in the construction industry, people are being told that when they submit plans they have to submit them in a form that they may never have heard of—but that we might be familiar with—called PDFs. They have no idea what that means, how to generate it or how to then distribute it.

Computer Pals is a community group that is opening up the eyes of people in a way that, as I said at the start of my contribution, maximises their engagement and participation in the community. They do it through a lot of support from other community groups, but an enormous voluntary contribution is made to ensure that a group like that is successful. It is building meaningful links within the broader community for people who, rightly, as senior Australians, have contributed to the development of our nation, to the development of the communities in which they live and who also have a right to be able to participate through technology in decisions that are being made in the future for them, their children and their grandchildren. I want to commend this motion and commend all the work of the community groups that will be mentioned through the course of this debate and salute them for what they are doing to help our nation prosper and grow.