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Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Page: 288

Mr RUDD (Griffith) (19:03): Communities are important. They are the backbone of what we call the Australian nation. Almost 14 years ago, on a hot Brisbane summer's afternoon, a small group of community leaders and volunteers gathered at one of the oldest Meals on Wheels halls on Brisbane's Southside to host the first Griffith Australia Day Awards. On this day, 15 women and men were recognised for their voluntary service to our community, some of them having served as volunteers for more than 30 years. We honoured them in front of about 50 people, taking photos, sharing stories and having a laugh over a cuppa and, of course, some Anzac biscuits.

Just a few weeks ago, I hosted the 14th Griffith Australia Day Awards. On this occasion, we recognised 137 volunteers from more than 49 different community groups across Brisbane's southside. We honoured these folk in front of more than 650 people—and about 1,000 lamingtons.

I began the Griffith Australia Day Awards with one objective: to honour the spirit of voluntary service in our local community. Every Australia Day you see a long list of names of people who have rendered service to the nation. That is good, fair and reasonable. But I think we all know as members of parliament that at a local community level there is a great group of people who receive no formal recognition. That is why I have done this at the local level all these years. I wanted the first community event for the year to be one of the best events of the year, reminding us what a great community we have.

At each and every one of the 14 Griffith Australia Day Awards ceremonies I have hosted, I have witnessed the spirit of service to the community writ large. At each of the awards, we have honoured those who have put the interests of others before themselves—those who have done the hard yards in Meals on Wheels, the local senior citizens, local P&Cs, swimming clubs, after-school care groups, Scouts, Guides and every sporting and community organisation under the sun. It is an impressive list to read.

It is people like Brian and Barbara Daley. For over 40 years, Barbara and Brian have been involved in the local St Vincent de Paul Society. Almost 10 years ago, they established a casserole bank, which involves organising local people to cook and freeze casseroles to provide ready cooked meals to those in crisis situations or suffering illness or bereavement—good, practical work. They have also been involved in establishing and running the local ambulance committee. Barbara has been active in adult literacy programs and Brian has assisted with various employment and training programs. These are rock-solid local folks.

It is people like Marie Dwyer. Marie has volunteered for most of her life and has dedicated years to helping others through her work with local community organisations, including the Cannon Hill Community Association, Cannon Hill Scout Group, Legacy Care and the War Widows Social Group. Marie continues to make a difference as a justice of the peace and by supporting patients in the dementia ward at Greenslopes Hospital.

It is also people like Dr Rachel Field. Rachel has been a tireless and dedicated volunteer with the Women's Legal Service for over 12 years. She has been unwavering in her commitment to enhancing access to justice for women in Queensland who experience domestic violence. Rachel has served as president of the service for 10 years and has shown incredible initiative and compassion in all that she does.

It is also people like Laszlo Togl. Laszlo has been a valuable and friendly member of the Balmoral Uniting Community Centre for the past several years.

Despite having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost 28 years ago, this has not prevented Laszlo from dedicating his time to helping others. He was a popular member of the Friday afternoon movie and lunch group, a terrific initiative that provided free and social entertainment for people with a disability. Laszlo's efforts as head BBQ chef have also been much appreciated. He is now an active volunteer with the Friday friendly group helping frail, aged and isolated local residents enjoy some fun, social activities in what otherwise is a difficult life of isolation.

And let's not forget Brisbane's 'Mud Army' who helped our community recover after the 201 floods. One of my proudest days as a local member was to have put out the call for volunteers that day. We started the clean-up and by the end of the day we had more than 250 local volunteers organised through my office to pick up gloves and equipment and head out to a total stranger's house to help. To each of these terrific volunteers, I say, 'Thank you; thank you for your talents, thank you for your energy You have offered a hand of friendship and support to those most in need. You're the unsung heroes of Brisbane's southside.' Dave Newsome, Ella Giuffrida, Fred Corlett, Rhonda Jackson, Thomas Searles, John Godfrey, Beryl Allam, Clive Harm, Don Hay, Peter Ferguson, Denise Fauth, Raymond Ferguson, Phillip Partis, Helen Hastie, Norman Love, Bernice Finlayson, Lesley Foxlee, Keith Walker, Clement John Frankling, Elizabeth Carrigan and many others—all heroes of our local community.