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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10160


Ms BURKE (Chisholm) (09:39): On Saturday I had the privilege of hosting the 10th anniversary of the Caroline Chisholm Awards. The Caroline Chisholm Awards are an initiative I initiated—10 years ago, obviously!— to recognise the volunteers in my electorate. It was the International Year of Volunteers back then and I thought this would be a terrific way of recognising Caroline Chisholm. Obviously a phenomenal volunteer of her time, she was the 'immigrants' friend'. As I like to say at the ceremonies, the woman was remarkable. The work she did for so many was the actual birth of our nation. She worked predominantly to help women who had arrived in the country to find either husband or a job, because both would lead to financial stability. She also had nine children, which was a remarkable effort. She died in abject poverty, and we do not really recognise her any more. I use the awards to recognise both her contribution and the contributions of those in my community.

After 10 years we thought we might not get nominations again; we were flooded with them. I have a committee that chooses the recipients, so it is not just down to me. I thank, as always, Norm Gibbs, who is the backbone of this event. He organises it, chooses the recipients and acts as MC for me on the day. I thank also Joy Banerji and Keyur Kelkar, who go through all the awards.

On the day, we recognised many people. I can name only a few: Brenda Gabe was one of them. Unfortunately, Brenda died earlier this year. She suffered from MS and had done so much from our community. When she got MS she decided she could be ill or she could do something with it—she did an amazing amount with it. Her husband said on the day: 'It gave her many more years of life by being active in the community.' George Haitidis, who said to me he was mortified about being recognised publicly, is the backbone of the SES locally. Although we are a metro area, the amazing effort of the Waverley unit of the VICSES—George is the unit controller—last year contributed 9,666 volunteering hours to my community. A lot of that was during floods during the year.

David McMurdie is another amazing character. We have now put David up twice for an Australia Day award, and twice he has been knocked back. David has for 40 years volunteered in the service of social justice through Community Aid Abroad and Oxfam Australia. He runs the local Oxfam group, raising literally thousands of dollars each year. He has spent many years travelling at his own expense to Africa to assist in Community Aid Abroad activities and he has also supported an enormous range of Sudanese people coming to Australia. John Robinson has been the backbone of his local St Vincent de Paul, as well as having seven children, 27 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, many of whom came on Saturday to see Pop get his award.

Ronald Sanday is an amazing person. We have never had so many people write to nominate one individual for an award. He was nominated because he is such an amazing good neighbour. He mows peoples' lawns, he cooks meals and he takes people shopping. He is 82 years of age, and he has been doing this for centuries. People say community is dead; I say it is alive and well, and the Caroline Chisholm Awards demonstrate this.