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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3343


Mr BYRNE (Holt) (19:24): Last Thursday, on a balmy autumn night at the Narre Warren Bowls Club, a hundred people came together to celebrate the end of a journey—a journey that chronicled the very best of our community. That celebration was the completion of the Our Stories: 52 Stories in 52 Weeks project.

As I have often stated in this House, the Our Stories project came about because I felt our local community had been frequently and unfairly represented in both the local and mainstream media. I wanted to provide a vivid and real contrast to these stories and, in doing so, bring forward to this chamber and elsewhere those amazing people that live and positively contribute to the local community in my federal electorate of Holt.

The Our Stories project has enabled the stories of many local heroes to be heard by the wider community. In fact, there were so many stories in our local community that we could easily have had 104 stories in 104 weeks—we just had to draw the line somewhere.

Again, as I have stated, it is the people in our region that make it a great region and a great part of the world. Each year I attempt to highlight our community and the achievements of our local heroes. We do this via the Community Spirit and Leadership Awards and the Holt Australia Day Awards. However, with the onset of social media tools, such as YouTube, and the power of film to tell wonderful stories, it seemed only natural to develop our own project to tell the stories of some of our local heroes via a series of short films. The aim of this project was to chronicle the lives of those who take time out of their lives to make the local community and our neighbourhood a better place; to recognise those who are so often unrecognised and unheralded for the work they do; and to acknowledge the sacrifices that they make. We often did that via a third person.

We recognise people like Brittany Leo, who is a talented, gifted young local singer who routinely donates her time and talent to perform at charity concerts; Judy Davis—the Spirit of Cranbourne—who has spent years assisting and promoting local business and the community; and Rob Wilson, who is spending his retirement developing and promoting over-60s cricket. I want now to acknowledge each of the participants who made up this project: Erica Maliki, Jeffrey Ware, Stephen Hallett, Leanne Petrides, Ron Webb, Juan Carlos Loyola, Anne Atkin, Mladen Krsman, Murray MacGregor, John Laughton, Chris Drysdale, Ben Phillips, Pam and Elvis D'Sa, Tess and Mairi-anne Macartney, George Nicol, Michele Halsall, Eric Wieckmann, Judy and Russell Owen, Grace Woltanski, Tony O'Hara, Les Boyes, Dale Sheppard, Elizabeth Anning, Susan Bergman, Val Motta, Hector De Santos, Warren and Larraine Calder, Thomas Niazmand, Father Abanoub Attalla, Brian Oates, Vanassa Gerdes, Steve Hill, Justin Yeo, Ken and Joy Reedy, Barbara Maggs, Anthony Jenner, Bob Barker, Dani Rothwell, Rahimi Baryalai, Larry Sebastian, Ruth Murray, Jenny Colvin, Rob Wilson, Debbie Nobbs, Judy Martin, Shaun Trotter, Dale McInnes, Brittany Leo, Radenko Mihailovic, Sarah Ferrante, Father Michael Protopopov, Wendy Murphy, Judy Davis, Dean Moroney, Thomas Moroney, Jacqui Taranto, Blossom Leonard-Fox and Ai-Lin Chang. It is a long list of names.

Mr Sidebottom: Say it again—what was the second one?

Mr BYRNE: All jokes aside here, they are 52 incredible stories. I would like to thank one person in particular—besides the two crew that are on my side there—and that is Alexandra Stalder. It takes a lot of work to videotape people, chronicle their lives—particularly around their busy work programs, schedules and family commitments—and put it on film. Alexandra did not do that by putting it on film on an office computer. She did it on her own computer. It was a labour of love conceived because of her enthusiasm and commitment to the community. Without Alex we would not have this. It is all well and good for me to be standing here, but the real engine room and creative spirit behind that was my staff member—as the boys will acknowledge—Alexandra Stalder. I would like to thank the guys here—Daniel White and the young fellow, Nick McLennan, for the work that he has done as well.

These are great and unique stories. They are on YouTube and we have had 18,000 views of these particular stories. We have to celebrate what is good and right in our community to offer hope and engagement because this place can be pretty divisive. I hope that this Our Stories: 52 Stories in 52 Weeks project has done that. It was a great project and a great journey, and it was an honour to be on that journey.