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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 580


Mr PASIN (Barker) (10:17): I rise today to speak about the establishment of a new Lions Club in the community of Lameroo in my electorate of Barker. Lameroo is a small community in the Murray Mallee. It has a population of just under 1,000 people. It has a strong community spirit. It has seen churches endure, sporting clubs endure, youth groups endure, and service clubs endure. It is in this spirit that last Sunday I attended the charter day for the Lions Club of Lameroo, and I wish to pay tribute to the 41 foundation members of the club; in particular, the president Andy Cornish, who has been an integral part of the charter committee that includes secretary Andrea Maynard, treasurer Mick Stout, membership officer Kieran Caulfield and vice-presidents Tracy Mills and Gary McMurtrie. The fact that the club has 41 charter members exemplifies the strength of commitment to community that you see in Lameroo.

Lions clubs across the globe are an ornament to civil society. The concept of having a club whose purpose is to encourage and promote good citizenship, to assist the less fortunate, to foster civic-mindedness and, in essence, to bring our community together and to foster the best of our intentions is one that we as Australians are fortunate to have so firmly embedded in our society. As we look across the world at the moment, we see a deeply troubling picture. It is the easy to forget how difficult it is to create and maintain a society where people treat each other with respect and work together to improve our quality of life. Lions Clubs International started in Chicago on 7 June 1917 and came to Lismore in Australia in 1947. Regardless of whether or not governments have been willing or able to provide the level of services that communities expect, Lions Clubs International have always been there—across the globe—to make sure that the less fortunate of us are not forgotten and have somewhere to turn. Importantly, Lions Clubs International have also been major contributors to medical research around the world and here in Australia—the bionic ear, cervical cancer vaccines, vision aids, motor neurone disease; the list goes on and on.

The Lions Club of Australia has a long and distinguished history in helping the sight impaired, ever since Helen Keller challenged Lions to become 'knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness', in 1925. Adelaide GP Dr Bob Coulthard initiated the SightFirst campaign, and Lions Clubs have raised since then over $200 million to support this program, which has restored sight to over one million people. I was lucky enough last Sunday to sit next to Dr Coulthard at the charter day, and I am truly in awe of his dedication and service to the Lions community and the Australian sight-impaired community.