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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4460

Mr MORRISON (Cook) (17:46): It is with great pleasure but at the same time sadness that I rise to speak on the passing of Iain Murray Rose. In this Olympic year there will be cause for much celebration as we encourage and witness the achievements of our athletes on the track, in the field and of course in Murray Rose's beloved pool. Australian sport has delivered us many heroes over time, but the role models we remember most fondly are those men and women who make a remarkable contribution and leave an indelible mark on the fabric of our society long after their race has been run or indeed swum.

Murray passed away last month after a battle with leukaemia at the age of 73. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Jodi, and their family. He will be sorely missed, most importantly as a husband and as a father, but to a nation he will be missed as a great Australian. Murray picked up the golden hat-trick at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, winning gold medals in the four by 200-metre freestyle relay, the 400-metre freestyle and the 1,500-metre freestyle. He was just 17 years old at the time. Backing up in Rome in 1960, Murray retained his 400-metre freestyle crown and picked up the silver medal behind fellow Aussie John Konrads in the 1,500-metre freestyle. His final swim for Australia was at the Perth Commonwealth Games in 1962 where he won his four events. The President of Swimming Australia, David Urquhart, said, 'Murray was part of the swimming DNA in Australia' and that his name was synonymous with success in the sport of swimming. Murray was a champion in the pool but perhaps more importantly, Murray was a champion in our community—and I mean even more specifically the community of the Sutherland shire.

He served for many years as the patron of the Rainbow Club, an organisation which I am proud to also be associated with. It is a hardworking, non-profit organisation that offers swimming lessons for children with disabilities and special needs. This is where I came to know Murray. The Rainbow Club provides specially tailored swimming lessons to young people with physical or mental disabilities. The club is a valuable opportunity for these children to make friends, to grow in confidence and to extend their abilities through sport and recreational swimming. Murray led by example with his hands-on approach, his infectious enthusiasm and great passion and commitment for this cause which is helping these kids grow in skill and confidence both in and out of the water. It also plays a crucial role in developing their sense of belonging. The kids feel a sense of ownership over their local club and pride in their local community. Importantly, the clubs also foster support networks between families, giving both the children and the parents opportunities to meet and share with others in similar circumstances to their own. There are 18 Rainbow clubs in Australia, including two in my electorate of Cook—the Cronulla Rainbow Club at Taren Point Swim School and the Sutherland Rainbow Club at the Sutherland Leisure Centre. Each club is run independently under a parent working committee overseen by a national constitution of Rainbow Club Australia which provides the major funding to drive this work forward. The Rainbow Club operates on a budget of about $250,000 a year—without any government contribution. But community input and fundraising is what is critical to ensure its success.

Children with disabilities have particular needs and the Rainbow Club provides specialised learn-to-swim instruction that is tailored to best support each student. In most cases this includes one-on-one classes. The club caters for a wide range of needs. For children with a physical disability that may mean they require greater supervision or progress at a different pace from their peers and children with autism whose condition would make a crowded and noisy 'mainstream' swim class an overwhelming and upsetting experience. Understandably, because of the tailored level of care, Rainbow's operating costs for instructors' wages are very high. But the work they do is critical and it is important the club continues to be supported in the future.

The Rainbow Club gives more than 400 children the opportunity to swim each weekend and employs about 70 instructors. In my electorate alone, there are about 70 kids who have this opportunity to get into the pool each weekend.

Rainbow Club Australia has been operating for more than 40 years now. It was started back in 1969 by a Cronulla local Ron Siddons and his wife, Lily. Ron has asked me, and I spoke to him today, to place on record their appreciation and their own personal tribute to Murray and their sincere condolences to his family. Never in their wildest dreams did they believe someone of Murray's standing, who was in such high demand, would be able to lend his support to their great cause. However, after being asked to take on the role of patron by another great shire identity, Peter Kerr, Murray signed up without hesitation.

Murray was an active patron, not just a name on the letterhead. He understood and participated in the work of the Rainbow Club. He played a key role in fundraising and lifting the club's profile. In 2008, he drove the creation of the Malabar Magic Ocean Swim—an event now enjoyed by 1,000 swimmers every year, raising more than $40,000 for these kids. In 2010, the Rainbow Club won the New South Wales Ministers Award for Most Significant Contribution to Water Safety with a Focus on an Under-Represented Group, in recognition of their contribution.

Rob Lloyd—a board member of the Rainbow Club—described Murray as a 'great man with a great heart and soul'. Murray was also a regular at the Cronulla Shark Island swim where he would often find himself lining up alongside my predecessor in the seat of Cook, the Hon. Bruce Baird, a very accomplished ocean swimmer, and I know Bruce would want to have his condolences and appreciation for Murray registered in this place. Bruce is also a regular at the Shark Island swim and has regularly won his age group, except of course when Murray has been in the water. It was not a bad thing to come second to the great Murray Rose.

When the swimmers line up next March, Murray will obviously not be there, but his contribution, his memory and his legacy will remain. By the end of his swimming career, Murray had broken 15 world records—two more than Olympian Ian Thorpe. These gold medals pay tribute to Murray's golden talent. However, the smiles on the faces of the kids and the families of the Rainbow Club will forever pay tribute to his golden heart.