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Thursday, 7 February 2013
Page: 495

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (09:33): I have a great number of sporting clubs in my electorate, and I want to talk about one of them today, the Parramatta Two Blues Rugby Club, a club founded as Cumberland way back in 1879 that has enjoyed 130 years of top-grade rugby in Sydney's premier competition and is one of only two clubs to have never been relegated.

The club reflects the community in which it is based. There are many cultures, many languages and several religions. Early last year I was made aware that the players were being subject to racist taunts when playing in other regions of Sydney. The players, some young children and others young adults, would brace themselves for a day of racial insults when they travelled to some other areas of our great city. The club decided to tackle the problem head on. They implemented a range of programs to tackle racism and approached Wallaby and Waratah Tatafu Polota-Nau to record a script about respectful behaviour in the Parramatta district.

I am pleased to say the club will be able to continue their wonderful work fighting racism, with a grant of $50,000 under this government's $1.5 million Diversity and Social Cohesion Program. It was a pleasure to be joined by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, last week to meet with the players from the Two Blues to discuss their Kick Racism Into Touch project. It was great to be able to throw the ball with Kate, Glen Christini, General Manager Michael Bell, President Geoff Baldwin, and four young players: Sam Yakopo, Dan Yakopo, Jessie Leota and Rodney Ma'a.

Like other clubs in your area, when you join Two Blues your culture and your whole life joins with you. The club embraces cultural life, and it is amazing to see young male and female rugby players don traditional clothes for a presentation of traditional dance. It is also impressive that the club provides Certificate III training courses in a range of areas for young players. The idea came I think from Merrylands Rugby Club, just down the road, who cooperated with TAFE some years ago to deliver IT courses up to Certificate III for their players, delivered in the afternoons at the clubhouse.

As part of Parramatta's Kick Racism Into Touch project the club will host cultural events at their rugby matches in Western Sydney to promote cultural understanding and unity. The club will also install signs and banners on their club grounds to promote awareness about cultural diversity. It is a great program by a great club, aimed at enhancing belonging and community connectedness, two ingredients critical in harnessing the strength of our diversity. It is a club that does a remarkable job with self-esteem and education, both on and off the field, and I commend them for it.

I would also say that the players of this club cannot vote on 14 September because it is the grand final day for our local rugby competition. I will be sending them, with all confidence, information on how to pre-poll so that they can get the job done well ahead of the grand final, which we are all well and truly hoping they will be doing on that day in September.