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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1786


Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (13:53): I rise today to acknowledge the excellent volunteer work done by Jaswinder Sidhu and the Sikh community in and around my electorate. I visited the Tarneit Sikh temple on Sunday, 24 November of this year. November 24th is a special day for Sikhs, as they honour the martyrdom of the ninth head of Sikhism, Guru Tegh Bahadur. I also attended a fundraiser in Werribee for a breakfast club operated by this community with the Victorian state member for Derrimut, Telmo Languiller, and member for Footscray, Marsha Thompson, as well as my colleague in this place, the federal member for Lalor, Joanne Ryan.

The breakfast club is run by Jaswinder Sidhu, and the free kitchens—referred to as 'langars'—are run by Sikh temples in Melbourne's west. The concept of langar was initiated centuries ago by Guru Nanak, a founder of the Sikh religion. At the langar, no-one goes hungry and everyone gets a hot meal regardless of caste, creed or religion. There are two types of programs run by the Sikh communities in Melbourne's west: a nutrition outreach support and health service that serves food to homeless children, bringing together elderly people in the Sikh community to cook for themselves and for the homeless children; and breakfast clubs, run by schoolchildren from places like the Wyndham Community and Education Centre, the Truganina South Primary School and the Baden Powell College both at Derrimut Health and Tarneit campuses, feeding 230 children every day.

Together, all Sikh temples in Victoria serve more than 50,000 free meals per month and anyone from any background, class, race and caste is welcomed. The west is lucky to call Jaswinder Sidhu its own. He does his volunteer work by working full time at RMIT completing a PhD and he is an icon of his community.