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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 661


Mr CHRISTENSEN (DawsonThe Nationals Deputy Whip) (10:40): I am most fortunate to have in my electorate perhaps Australia's best holiday destination, the Whitsundays. What truly makes the Whitsundays such a great place is not just the beautiful waters, the many different Whitsunday islands and the natural features of the place; what makes the Whitsundays great is the extraordinary sense of community that is amongst the locals there.

That sense of community was clearly evident when the Rotary Club of Airlie Beach began a project back in 1986 to put all of the local phone numbers into one handy 36-page booklet. It was the birth of the 'My Whitsunday' local phone guide. That project is now in its 29th year. It covers the region and averages about 250 pages and has comprehensive maps, tidal, first aid and weather information, news and even webcams. They have just launched a new website and a mobile app, which have further increased the accessibility of this resource. With almost 100 per cent advertising coming from local business, it has become an essential tool for every home and business in the Whitsundays.

Most importantly, My Whitsunday is one of the most successful Rotary projects in Queensland and possibly Australia, because profits are returned to the community. Advertisers pay Rotary, which in turn deploys funds directly and indirectly for a wide range of purposes. Direct funding from this project comes in the form of special grants, emergency assistance to local families in need, food hampers, school breakfast programs, equipment funding for the Whitsunday and Bowen PCYCs, local schools, hospitals and the volunteer marine rescue.

It allows donations to local not-for-profit organisations, especially through the My Whitsunday Beneficiary Program, which has raised well over $100,000 since it began in 2009. It supports and sponsors events like the Whitsunday Reef Festival, Carols by the Beach and local youth programs such as safe teenage driving courses. It also supports anti-bullying, child abuse prevention and leadership programs. It supports schoolies week in the Whitsundays, Clean-Up Australia, the Christmas party for the disabled and a local hands-on environmental organisation, ECOBARGE, which I have supported through my own My Whitsunday sponsorship. The My Whitsunday revenue is also used to fund the annual community raffle and prizes. Selling organisations keep ticket sales proceeds.

More than 100 local sporting and community groups were assisted in 2012 alone with more than $100,000. Between 2011 and 2013, the My Whitsunday local phone guide has returned more than $600,000 to the community. Since the project began, it as injected over $10.25 million into the community, getting support to where it is needed. The Whitsundays is a world-class tourist destination, and this community group is doing an awe-inspiring job. The project lives by the motto: By our community, for our community. It certainly is and I congratulate them.