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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 14970


Mr LLOYD (9:25 PM) —Back in April, I had the pleasure of visiting the Ironbark Reserve and the Waterfall Walking Trail at Mangrove Mountain, which has been constructed by an energetic group of Work for the Dole participants. After inspecting the site, I also had the privilege of presenting the participants with certificates at an awards function held at the Mangrove Mountain Community Hall. My special thanks go to the CWA ladies, who provided a magnificent lunch for us. At that awards ceremony, there was an address given by Mrs Margaret Pontifex from Mangrove Mountain, who is a community leader in the area. I was so impressed by the address I asked her if I could have a copy of it, and tonight I would like to read some of it into Hansard. It starts:

... I ended up involved in this project purely by accident, coupled with my strong sense of community and desire to find out about things.

It all began when Paul and Ian from Wesley turned up at a meeting and said they were establishing a Work for the Dole team and needed jobs for them. Everyone said what a great idea and looked at me. I had previously got roped into supervising people doing community service projects to pay out fines. At this stage I had no idea what was involved but knew there were a lot of things needing doing and there was no money or enough hands!! Hence I made a list.

... ... ...

I believed if the W.F.D participants could learn some skills and collect some of these other good qualities the project was a winner and worth my efforts. Of course if the participants got enough skills etc to land a job well, that was better than a lottery win.

The small amount of contact I have had has shown the project can (if properly run and supervised) be much better than I had hoped.

It has been the best thing that has happened to our community. We have got jobs done which have been urgent for 50 years. We just couldn't have afforded the dollars or the time and people power to achieve half. Thank you so much to all the people who worked on our Mountain projects. You have saved us so many scarce dollars in things getting neglected being done. You have boosted a small community which is suffering the after effects of two very serious bureaucratic bungles in 1994 and 1999.

Thank you and congratulations. I know you have achieved much, in skills, team spirit, a sense of community, giving of your time and talents, self worth, punctuality, responsibility etc.

Now to the powers that be. Don't let Mangrove lose the team. We need them as much as they need our projects. We need to, at minimum, see what's been achieved maintained. This scheme must continue and expand for the benefit of all Australians. We can't afford otherwise. Please invest in properly monitored, organised and run W.F.D schemes. They are much better value than the totally dependent non achieving social security system we all suffer.

This is an example of how successful the Work for the Dole projects have been. The Work for the Dole scheme was not supported by the Labor opposition but is giving much back to many small communities throughout Australia and is also giving a great deal to the participants.

All the participants that I spoke to on the day of the presentation of their certificates were supportive of the scheme. They said that it had achieved a great deal for them. They know that they have given back to the community a valuable walking trail which had been lost because it had been overgrown by lantana and other weeds and could not be used by the community. Now it is a wonderful walking trail that goes down through the valley to a waterfall and picnic area and it will be able to be enjoyed by the community once again. These people have learnt the skills Margaret Pontifex mentioned in her speech—the skills of punctuality and of workmanship. They have pride in themselves and many of them have gone on to obtain full-time or casual work.

This is just one example of the literally hundreds of Work for the Dole schemes that have been a great success throughout our community on the Central Coast, and I know that they have been a great success throughout many other communities in Australia. This scheme is something that I am very proud to be associated with. The Howard government introduced this scheme, which is giving to our communities and giving to those that are unemployed the skills that they need to obtain permanent or casual work.