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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 631

Mr BYRNE (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (10:51 AM) —On Australia Day this year, on a magnificent summer’s day, I had the honour on behalf of the Holt electorate to celebrate and publicly recognise unsung heroes in our community by presenting the Holt Australia Day awards to over 20 special people and organisations. It is a great Australian quality that many individuals in this great country give their time and effort in a typically understated way to help improve the lives of others. They ask for no recognition for their work. In fact, they are often embarrassed when their contributions are recognised, but I feel that they should be recognised because they are great role models for our young people and because of the hope that they offer to many. So I take this opportunity—and I hope that I do not run out of time—to mention the special individuals and organisations that were honoured at the Holt Australia Day Community Spirit Awards. On behalf of all of us here in this federal parliament, I want to thank them for their selfless service and contribution to our community.

This year’s recipients were: Anne Atkin of Painting with Parkinson’s; Robina Bell of the Warren Opportunity Shop; Les Boyes of Neighbourhood Renewal; Brenda Chessum of the Warren Opportunity Shop; Judaline Fonseca of Helping Hands of St Joseph; Gamini Fonseka of the Springvale Neighbourhood House; Chou Gai for his wonderful efforts in working with the Sudanese community; Michele Halsall of the Hampton Park Community Renewal Committee and Southern Cross Kids Camp; Allison Harvey of the Warren Opportunity Shop; Lady Uppity Crust, a wonderful community-minded local resident renowned for her quick smile and keen dress sense; Patrick Merrett, an outstanding member of the Doveton and Hallam country fire authority brigades for nearly half a century; Wendy Murphy, Secretary of the Hampton Park Networking Group; Anton Nadarajah for his longstanding work with the Migrant Resource Centre; Brian Neave of the Warren Opportunity Shop; Brett Owen, our local police youth resource officer—a young man building vital bridges with many young people in our region; Sankara Subramanian and Kumararuban Vairananthan of the Victorian Tamil Cultural Association and the Sri Lankan Elders Welfare Association; Michael Tucker, who risked life and limb to rescue two young children from a burning house in Cranbourne West; Michael Kaisner and Justin Gray, winners of the Ambulance Community Hero awards who, in separate heroic efforts, saved the life of an injured motorist and an electrocuted electrician; Marisa Walters of the Casey and District Multiple Birth Association; Henni Watts of the Salvation Army; the Berwick and District Woodworkers Club; and, last but not least and a fellow Endeavour Hills resident, Juan Carlos Loyola, a man who has worked with kids with special needs for well over 15 years and who has helped those young people play soccer and, in some cases, represent their country.

All of those people that I have mentioned here today in this place, through the threads of their many stories of their contribution to the community, sum up to me—and I am sure to other members—what it means to be Australian.