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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31745

Mr NEVILLE (9:55 AM) —Last night in the Great Hall I witnessed a tremendous event, and I am referring not just to the excellence of the arrangements, the cuisine and the camaraderie but also to the celebration of community and personal achievement. I refer of course to the Prime Minister's Work for the Dole Awards. The dynamic of the evening was the clearest possible demonstration of the effectiveness of Work for the Dole, not only as an avenue of mutual obligation but also as a mechanism to break the cycle of unemployment, to restore confidence and self-esteem and to focus previously unemployed people on a stimulating and aspirational path of engagement with the work force.

Kathy Tomkins, a constituent of mine, is the embodiment of the good things in the Work for the Dole program. Last night she won the 2003 Participant of the Year Award. She reached the high point on the path that 292,000 current and former Work for the Dole participants have embarked on. Kathy has an amazing story to tell, rising from a disadvantaged background and the depths of personal despair to become the best Work for the Dole participant in the nation. Kathy fought and beat her personal demons and has found a steady course for the rest of her life.

Kathy began her journey by taking part in the Work for the Dole activity hosted by the Salvation Army Store in Bundaberg and is now a reception and admin assistant at the Salvation Army's Tom Quinn Centre—the centrepoint of its Bundaberg social programs. Kathy, like the recent participants, took up her training credits earned as part of the program. Those credits helped pay for her certificate II in business studies and she has since undertaken a certificate III course to further her skills. In addition, Kathy gives her time as a guest speaker in schools to share her story on the harmful effects of drug use. Don Cook, the retired manager of the Salvation Army Family Stores and Community Services in Bundaberg, had this to say about Kathy turning her life around:

Everyone that had previously met Kathy can hardly believe that it is the same young woman who came into our lives.

I congratulate Gerry Crotty and John Baribal, amongst others from the CWC skills centre of regional Queensland, and Major Pearson and the Salvation Army's focused staff at the Tom Quinn Centre. In a night dotted with work skills stars and other great success stories, Kathy Tomkins of Bundaberg stood out. The long and sustained applause at the announcement of her win was ample testament to a popular and deserving winner.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order! In accordance with standing order 275A the time for members' statements has concluded.