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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3462


Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (10:42): For the last few years we have hosted a very special breakfast that coincides with International Women's Day. The focus of the breakfast is to commemorate the service of Coral McLean. Coral McLean passed away from cancer in 2011. She had a long battle with cancer and unfortunately she succumbed. While her passing caused a lot of grief in our area, there were a lot of people that wanted to celebrate all the things she had done, particularly the selfless dedication she provided to our community, where it was estimated she dedicated 100,000 hours of her time to helping others. So we hold a breakfast every year where we celebrate the commitment of women who are contributing to community groups and improving community life across the Chifley area. It is done, as I said, to recognise the efforts of the 'Mother of Mount Druitt', Coral McLean.

On 11 March I hosted the breakfast in Mount Druitt, and Coral, while sadly not with us, was there in spirit through her police officer son, Mark. We were able to recognise a number of women for their contributions in our area. These women were nominated by their peers and were then assessed by the judging panel—and here I want to thank Julie Dubuc from the Ted Noffs Foundation, West Tradies Director Doreen O'Grady, and Evans High School Principal Kay Smith, who went through all the nominees.

The winner was Blacktown's Merleen Millson. Merleen joined with Coral McLean in setting up the Mount Druitt and Area Community Legal Centre and she has been so passionate and very forceful in her advocacy of the service. She was joined by Aunty Jenny Ebsworth and Debbie Higginson, who were jointly named Chifley Woman of the Year, and Christa Anthony, who was named Chifley Young Woman of the Year. We were all very grateful to have present with us the Hon. Justice Margaret Beazley, a woman of incredible substance and achievement in her own right and the first female president of the New South Wales Court of Appeal.

If I may in the remaining seconds just reflect on Merleen's contribution. Merleen has worked across a number of areas and she is someone I count as a very near and dear friend. I was grateful that the independent judging panel selected her, but she should be recognised for her deep, passionate commitment to our area. It was through her work that the Mount Druitt and Area Community Legal Centre was able to secure continued funding to help support people in our area who are in great legal need. I congratulate her on getting the Coral McLean Award. I congratulate the other winners and nominees and commend them for what they do for our community. (Time expired)