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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 383

Mr BRIAN MITCHELL (Lyons) (10:24): Today I rise to talk about the remarkable Kobe Bennett, who was last month awarded the title of Young Citizen of the Year in the city of Brighton, in my electorate. Kobe has a real commitment to his community and to creating positive social change. Last year, he was awarded the Human Rights Youth Award in Tasmania, and two years ago he became an author. This is remarkable because Kobe is 12 years old.

Sitting in the audience at the Brighton civic centre's citizenship awards listening to the list of Kobe's achievements, I was in awe. This young man is yet to enter his teens but he has already achieved more than many can claim in a lifetime. He is overcoming adversity and stands as an example not just to his peers but to adults. Kobe's advice to all of us in this place is, 'Make sure kids have a voice, particularly around the issues of child protection and legislation'. Kobe, his mum Maree and his brothers have lived with years of family violence. But Kobe has not let this defeat him nor turn him inwards and angry. He has, instead, used the experience to strengthen his spirit. Kobe tells his story bravely and he talks about how the abuse against his mother affected him the most, 'When my dad hurt my mum, my heart felt like popping. Family violence messed me up,' he is quoted as saying. This abuse made it difficult for him to know what is right and wrong. Two years ago at the age of 10, Kobe wrote a book as part of his journey in recovery, now that his mother has left his father and they are healing together. The book is titled The only house in the desert and is a tool to give a voice to kids like Kobe, kids who are survivors of abusive upbringings in abusive homes. This is a remarkable young man and I wish him all the best as he moves onwards in life.

As a young life starts, another one ends. In finishing today's comments, I want to mark the passing of Deirdre Flint, the former mayor of the central highlands municipality in my electorate. Deirdre Flint died on 31 January. She was a long-serving mayor and she was a long-serving life member of the Liberal Party—so certainly no political bedfellow of mine. She was a great member of the community. She lived for her community and I do wish her family and her friends all the best. She is being buried today in a private funeral. I wish the Flint family and the central highlands community my very best wishes.