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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 14064


Mr BYRNE (Holt) (11:35): In May this year, I spoke in this place about a project that I commenced in February called Our Stories: 52 Stories in 52 Weeks. This project aimed to highlight the stories of those in our community who often shun the limelight, but work tirelessly to make our community a better place. Over the last 10 months, it has been an honour to put the spotlight on the wonderful stories of volunteers and inspirational community leaders who, through their actions and deeds, have made a real difference in the local community that I represent. Each story that has been highlighted is a positive story. It aims to encourage others to become more involved in their own community. Each inspirational story encourages us and inspires us to play a more active role in our communities. It is striking to see how each story also reveals the deep satisfaction and sense of achievement felt by those who are making a difference in our local neighbourhood.

It has been said that Australians, in these times of increasing financial and time pressures on family, are less able to spare the time participating in service clubs, community organisations and other activities. So our country loses as we are unable to fully participate in the life of our community, and in many cases stand up for community issues. The stories that I have spoken about—and will briefly speak about and will briefly speak about again—show the transformative power of reconnecting with their own communities and keeping alive local institutions that make a difference, and improve the liability of the local area. They are the social glue in our area. This is all about, I think, collectively working for the common good. It is what a society should do, and it is also what a government should be obligated to do, and should always seek to do.

As I said, I have previously spoken of inspirational stories in this place, and while I am not going to have enough time today, I just wanted to mention more of those stories that we have spoken about in this local 52 stories in 52 weeks initiative.

George Nicol, a fantastic human being, has volunteered at the Cranbourne Information and Support Service for the last 10 years, and he was the former President of CISS. Michelle Halsall played an instrumental role in establishing the Casey Community Floods Support Group in the aftermath of the February 2011 floods. Eric Wieckmann, otherwise known as Captain Eric, is the founder of CHIPS, Christians Helping In Primary Schools, which he has been involved with for over 10 years, transforming the lives of countless young Australians. Judy and Russell Owen are professional, caring and committed volunteers who have served the local community in a number of roles over many years. Both Judy and Russell have been involved in the Berwick Air League for over 20 years serving in various roles.

Grace Woltanski has been the President of the Polish Forty Plus Club for 17 years. Tony O'Hara is the Treasurer of the Hampton Park Progress Association, and one of the main organisers for the annual Day of Nations event held on Australia Day in Hampton Park. Les Boyes has worked tirelessly with the Doveton Neighbourhood Renewal, assisting on the Australia Day committee, and also Myuna Market and at the learning centre. Then there is Dale Sheppard. Dale's life was changed forever when he was 18. His bicycle collided with a motor car as he was riding home from work. The accident left Dale an incomplete quadriplegic. Dale was deemed to be uninsured at the time as he was riding a bike, not driving a car. But, through his consistent and relentless campaigning, Dale's accident resulted in amendments to the Victorian Transport Accident Act that ensured that people who found themselves in circumstances similar to Dale's would in fact be covered by this act. This is an incredible achievement. Elizabeth Anning is a leader at the Narre Warren North Girls Guides. Susan Bergman has been an active member not just in the Cranbourne community but also right across the City of Casey for well over 10 years. Susan is heavily involved in the arts community, particularly the BATS Theatre Company, and is a very good friend of Lady Uppity Crust, who is a character we see around the events in the City of Casey. Val Motta is a highly active member of the Italian Pensioners Club of Cranbourne who always goes above and beyond her responsibilities as club president. Hector De Santos, as a volunteer committee member of the Friends of Frog Hollow, has assisted with coordinating a number of tree-planting events that have seen more than 60,000 native trees, plants and grasses planted in the reserve, literally transforming the community—all volunteer work. Warren and Larraine Calder have been living in the Hampton Park community for close to 40 years. Larraine has worked as a volunteer hall manager for the Arthur Wren Hall for approximately 10 years, and Warren has been President of the Hampton Park Progress Association for many years.

I could go on and on. These are the people who make Australia a great country, and we will continue to highlight their stories—their Australian stories.