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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 3031


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (11:44): I rise to pay tribute to the work of the Kids in Dangerous Situations Foundation in Australia. More children die from injury than disease, and each day more than 5,000 kids are unintentionally injured. Of those, more than 100 are so serious they require treatment in hospital. The KIDS Foundation, as it is known, is a not-for-profit charity that promotes good health and is committed to reducing the incidence of childhood injury and death. The foundation is active across Australia, reaching more than 450,000 children and their families, and working in more than 7,000 schools to raise awareness and deliver education programs to teach safety risk management life skills. Their recovery program offers ongoing support for those children and families who unfortunately have been injured and exposed to horrific burns, trauma and other life-changing injuries.

2013 is the 20th anniversary of the foundation, which was set up in 1993 by former pre and primary school teacher Susie O'Neill, who has driven the fantastic work of this organisation with such dedication and enthusiasm for all of this time. In 1993 Susie was visiting an aged-care facility when she noticed a 12-year-old boy. He had suffered horrific injuries in an accident but was forced to share a room with three men in their nineties as there were no child-friendly rehabilitation facilities where he could be treated. That heartbreaking experience inspired Susie to set up her charity to raise funds to assist young people in their recovery and campaign for injury prevention.

KIDS is a national leader in childhood injury prevention but also, importantly, in recovery. In 2006, the KIDS Foundation was the Victorian winner of the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships and in 2008 was the winner of the Victorian communities award. KIDS Foundation is continuing its expansion in other states, including my own and Queensland, where a $140,000 grant from the state government has helped launch a pilot program with widespread community interest. KIDS Foundation runs injury prevention programs including SeeMore Safety and the Safety Club to develop risk management life skills in children with a 'think safe, play safe' attitude. Injury recovery programs include: Kids Place, a rehabilitation unit support for children and young people; the Burn Survivor's Network, which provides support, services and counselling for burns survivors and their families; and TANGO, Together Achieving New Goals and Opportunities, to help kids who have unfortunately suffered life-changing injuries to discover their talents and achieve their goals and pursue new opportunities in spite of that injury. Another initiative is Camp Phoenix, which brings together young burns survivors to share their stories and encourage each other on their journey on the road to recovery and beyond.

I first met Susie at the Royal Challenge paddle and run event in the Shire last year to raise funds for KIDS. I did that with George Mifsud, whose employer, Compass, is the primary sponsor of the KIDS Foundation and has been supporting them for many years. I want to pay tribute to Compass and to George for their enthusiasm in supporting this wonderful charity. Susie and I met again recently to discuss the work of KIDS, particularly within the Sutherland shire. I am very pleased to have taken up Susie's invitation to be the inaugural parliamentary patron for KIDS and I am looking forward to working with Susie and her team to promote their work and to be an advocate for keeping our kids safe, not just within the Shire but right across the country.

Our first endeavour in the shire is to pull together a community steering committee to see if we can get at least five other local schools to take this program. As a parent of two young girls, one of whom has just started at a local public school this year, this has obviously put these issues more into my frame of reference, but I think that one of the things that happen when you are a parent is that these issues become even more apparent. In this place and across the country I look forward to having the opportunity not just to ensure the safety of my own children but to ensure that all children can be safe and can learn how to be safe. When we meet young children and those that have gone into adulthood and we see the tremendous and traumatic impact of life-changing injuries it is important that wherever possible we do what we can, when we can, to give them the skills to help them avoid that situation. That puts obligations on us as parents, as community leaders, in our schools to support those who are trying to get the message across. The KIDS Foundation has wonderful learning materials: books that kids can read, with characters they can identify with. They can take in these stories and learn how to be safe and to stay free from injury.

I also look forward to taking part in this year's Royal Challenge in the shire, down at Audley, where there will be another paddle and run event. I think I will just do the kayak and leave the run to some of my colleagues. That will raise much-needed funds for the initiative in the shire. If you would like to support KIDS, go to kidsfoundation.org.au.