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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11518

Dr FREELANDER (Macarthur) (17:49): I rise today to speak in favour of the motion put forward by the member for Bonner. I take great pleasure in following my good friend the member for Dobell and, indeed, all my colleagues who have already spoken and those who are yet to speak on this motion in the future, as it is something where there is bipartisanship. It really is something which we all agree on.

The first point of this motion recognises the fantastic contribution that volunteers make to the community of Bonner. On indulgence, I would like to inform the House of some of the fantastic work being done by volunteers in my electorate of Macarthur and in electorates all around Australia. Volunteers are the backbone of the Macarthur electorate. Across Australia, many millions of Australians volunteer every year, and I'm proud to say that many of these wonderful people come from the Macarthur electorate. Everywhere you go across Macarthur, you see wonderful local residents volunteering their time, their hard work and their expertise for the betterment of our community. People volunteer across Macarthur to help out their neighbours, to lend a helping hand to those in need and to contribute to our local schools, sporting organisations, charities and not-for-profits.

In light of International Volunteer Day, which will take place next Wednesday, 5 December, I had the privilege of holding a volunteer award ceremony and afternoon tea in my electorate office last week. Over the last couple of months, I had been accepting nominations for worthy Macarthur residents to receive my volunteer award, and I was pleased that so many wonderful local residents were nominated by their respective organisations. Many of these people I knew firsthand had worked in developmental support organisations, in places like Lifeline, in organisations feeding the homeless and in a whole range of other different organisations which I've been involved with.

I wish to take this opportunity to mention the many wonderful people who became recipients of my award and who contribute so much to the Macarthur community. They include Julie Murphy, Shila Thomas, Janet Shiels, Eric Third, Valerie Avery, Mia Asuit, Jan Domanski, John Bates, Larry Fuller, Charmaine Fowler, Sally Anne Hurley, Jonas Pereira, Michael Atkinson, Jayden Wilkie, Anna Sabalj, Lee Turner, Skye Betts, Kevin Wilkie, Chantelle Wilkie, Annette Johnson, Jan Drenth, Amanda Axisa, Brian Meleng, Ruth Brown, Christine Padilla, Michelle Morn, Elise Marcus and Kate Banister. We owe a debt of gratitude to these people, along with many, many others, who selflessly give their time, their energy, their resources and their expertise to improve our community of Macarthur.

I'm immensely proud of the volunteer effort in Macarthur. There are many organisations which are vital to our community, which are run off the backs of our generous volunteers. I see firsthand how hard they work and also the fruits of their labour. There are countless other individuals who contribute so much as volunteers, who weren't named and who haven't been nominated but probably should be. If I were to name them all in my community, I would be here all day. In my career as a paediatrician, I've had the distinct privilege of working alongside many volunteers in our community, in our hospitals and in our health services. It is my distinct pleasure to be able to continue to do so now as their federal member of parliament. The services these people provide for our community are invaluable and deserve to be recognised. From the lovely women whom I see volunteering at Campbelltown Hospital and whom I've gotten close to over the many years of working there, to the parents who volunteer in our local special schools, to the people who volunteer for their local footy club at the weekend—these volunteers enrich the lives of each and every one of us and add so much to our community.

There are too many volunteers to name them all; however, it would be remiss of me to forget to mention one of our local Tax Help volunteers, Joseph Mascarenhas. My office as been the site for an Australian Taxation Office Tax Help program for quite a long time now, and over that time we have got to know Joseph very well. He is a really outstanding citizen. He is now retired, though he dedicates his time to give back, as he says, to our local community, by helping low-income earners complete their tax returns every year. I look forward to continue to offer my office over the coming years to host this wonderful service, and I thank Joseph so much for his selfless contribution to our community.

I note from the member for Bonner's motion that volunteering efforts make an estimated annual economic and social contribution of $290 billion to Australia. This is a truly remarkable contribution, and it's pertinent that we support the efforts of our volunteers wherever possible. Thank you, volunteers, for all you do in Macarthur and around Australia. We are gathered here today as elected representatives to serve our communities and are given generous compensation to do so, yet you provide community support for no financial compensation. The many volunteers who we pay homage to today serve our communities selflessly— (Time expired)