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Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 19927

Mr MELHAM (9:53 AM) —I recently had the privilege of accompanying the Bankstown City Council's Meals on Wheels team as they delivered lunches in Revesby. The occasion was the Meals on Wheels national day on 3 September. Today I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the Meals on Wheels service in my electorate of Banks.

The Australian Meals on Wheels Association describes its vision as `providing a flexible, adaptable national Meals on Wheels service for the frail, the aged, younger people with disabilities and their carers in Australia'. It is important that we recognise the breadth of their client base and their support for not only the elderly but people with disabilities and their carers. Meals on Wheels organisations operate right across the country. They are not-for-profit organisations administered by local committees, who volunteer their time and expertise. Volunteers are at the heart of the success of Meals on Wheels.

In Bankstown, the council's Meals on Wheels coordinator is Pat Pride, and I take the opportunity today to acknowledge Pat and her team of volunteers for their dedication and commitment to this crucial community service. Volunteers can play a variety of roles. I worked with the field volunteers, who operate in pairs to deliver meals and other services to clients using their own cars. There are more than 35,000 volunteers in New South Wales who offer their time regularly to deliver meals to about 20,000 aged and disabled people and their carers every day.

The Bankstown Meals on Wheels service celebrated Christmas in July this year with a special meal at the Bankstown Senior Citizens Centre. Pat Pride told me that the special occasion offers the frail, aged and isolated residents of the Bankstown area the chance to share a meal with other people. Of course the service's meals are nutritionally balanced; they usually consist of a soup, main meal and dessert. Meals on Wheels aims to cater for the dietary needs of all their clients, including people with gluten intolerances, diabetes and chewing or swallowing difficulties and people from different ethnic backgrounds.

In conclusion, I want to commend the Meals on Wheels organisations, and particularly the work of Pat Pride and her team of volunteers at Bankstown, for their tremendous contribution to the local community. They do it five days a week and provide the meals for the weekend on the Friday. They are all volunteers. We could not pay them for the work they do and the goodwill that they generate in the community. The kindness that they show the recipients is unbelievable.