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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7088


Mr MITCHELL (McEwen) (22:14): I rise to congratulate Peter Weeks from Alexandra, who was awarded an OAM in the General Division for services to communities in the upper Goulburn region, particularly during the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

Peter's long-term dedication and commitment to communities within the region is amply demonstrated by the many volunteer positions he has taken on, especially as a member of the Alexandra unit of the Victoria SES for more than 40 years, including 25 years as its communications officer and duty officer. He has brought extraordinary energy, expertise and effort to emergency service bodies across the municipalities of Murrindindi, Mansfield and Benalla through grassroots organisations such as the Acheron Fire Brigade through to regional bodies.

In working to improve communications for residents and emergency service bodies in roles such as the regional coordinator for the Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network for 22 years and as technical officer for Mansfield Community Radio for 10 years, combined with outstanding initiative as a founding committee member of Upper Golden Community Radio Incorporated, Peter has helped to provide fantastic new opportunities for information-sharing across many levels for the benefit of many communities.

David McGahy, the Arthurs Creek CFA captain, was awarded an OAM for his services in the 2009 Victorian bushfires. David 's deep-held commitment to his community is evident through his membership of the Arthurs Creek Fire Brigade since 1965—that was before I was born—which has included many executive positions, including captain for 12 years.

David has served the wider region admirably through executive participation in the Whittlesea-Diamond Valley Fire Brigades Group and the Nillumbik Municipal Fire Prevention Committee. This is also recognised and greatly appreciated across the district. Small communities rely heavily on willing, dedicated volunteers such as David, who has given his time and efforts to a number of local organisations such as the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute hall for 20 years, including 10 years as president; the Strathewen Oval Committee for five years; the Arthurs Creek Primary School Council for 11 years; the Arthurs Creek Landcare Group; and the Strathewen Tennis Club.

Roger Jones of Gisborne was awarded an OAM in the General Division. Roger's wide-ranging service to the community includes executive roles with many emergency service organisations and shows extraordinary commitment and dedication to the community.

Roger has worked at a high level over many years, including at some extremely difficult times. His involvement has included the South Pacific Geoscience Commission High-Level Advocacy Team and the Royal Humane Society of Australasia, as well as local bodies such as the Macedon Ranges Further Education Centre, the Mount Macedon Memorial Cross Committee of Management and Macedon Ranges Shire Council.

Jane Hayward from Kinglake was awarded an AM in the General Division of the Order of Australia for services to the community of the Strathewen area, particularly to the school kids and their families in the aftermath of the Victorian bushfires. As principal of Strathewen Primary School, which was destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires—and the community totally devastated—Jane played a central role in all aspects of the relocation, rebuilding and reopening of the school.

Jane showed extraordinary dedication, compassion and courage in assisting the highly traumatised community in its efforts to recover and rebuild from a seemingly impossible situation. From personal experience I know that the wider community is very pleased to have Jane working with them, and is also extremely proud of her and her work. Jane has made an enormous effort to help the Strathewen community through the most distressing times.

I also want to congratulate Kevin and Rhonda Butler—they are husband and wife—who each received an OAM for their assistance as founders of BlazeAid in the aftermath of the 2009 bushfires. They got together 3,200 volunteers to do over 500 kilometres of fencing for farmers and landowners affected by the bushfires. Their contribution to communities across Victoria then extended to communities in Queensland and Western Australia during 2011-12 after the devastating floods. It was fantastic to see that the nature of assistance BlazeAid provided widened to match the community's needs including repair of structures and clearing debris and fallen trees.

I also want to acknowledge Cameron Caine. He was the Liberal candidate for McEwen at the last election. He received an OAM because of the work he had done in the Kinglake community during the bushfires. His courageous and selfless efforts to help residents find a path through the bushfires to a safe refuge were truly worthy of recognition. His continuing efforts to assist those in the most traumatic and difficult of tasks, including identifying many friends who had perished, showed an unfathomable fortitude. By helping to revive his beloved Kinglake Football Club and lift it to grand final level, Cameron helped provide his community with the opportunity for strong emotional bonds through healthy activity at a time when they needed it most.

I also want to congratulate Russell Bate from Jamieson. He was awarded an OAM in the General Division. It is an honour to acknowledge the service Russell has given to the community through extensive roles in a range of sporting and arts organisations and to local government. (Time expired)