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Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Page: 17289

Mrs DE-ANNE KELLY (2:58 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Would the minister update the House on the progress of the Green Corps program?

Mr ANTHONY (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) —I thank the member for Dawson for her question. Indeed, I had the pleasure of being in that electorate recently with the member for Dawson at a graduation of a Green Corps project in Sarina. I have to say that this has been one of the most outstanding programs that the coalition has put in place, with two key objectives: better environmental outcomes, which we are doing, and great youth development by encouraging young participants across Australia. It is focusing on our two greatest assets: our young people and, of course, better outcomes for the environment.

For our young people it no doubt improves their skills, gets them more job ready, builds camaraderie and, specifically, increases their confidence about and knowledge of environmental issues. Indeed, since 1996 over 10,000 young people have participated in the program, in over 1,000 projects. They have been very diverse. In the member for Parkes's electorate, near Forbes, there is a Green Corps team working on a wildlife corridor—it is all about replanting native trees and shrubs. In the member for Brand's electorate, down near Peel waterways at Mandurah, there is another great project for young people. So far in Perth South in Western Australia they have planted over 7.9 million trees and eradicated about 30,000 hectares of weeds.

I must admit that the most encouraging element of Green Corps is the feedback that we get from the participants. I was up in the member for Dawson's electorate recently, and she had received a letter from a young graduate. I would like to share it with the House. It says:

Green Corps has done wonders for all of us. I myself never used to want to work at all. Four months down the track after this program, now I am willing to try anything. The program has benefited us all in many ways. Now we have confidence in ourselves, it has given us so much more worth in our lives. We now know that we can go out into the world with our heads held high and believe in ourselves.

What a wonderful testimony from those young Green Corps teams up in the Dawson electorate and across the country. Even in my own electorate, I was reassured the other day by Green Corps participants who are doing wonderful work in the Dunbible catchment, having teamed up with a local land care group. The team leader, Janica Pearson, said that Green Corps `improves the attitude, the self-esteem and the work ethic for young people involved with the project'. Green Corps is a terrific program, and I hope that all members of the House get behind these young Australians and encourage them. Good for them and good for the environment.