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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6188

Mr BYRNE (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Trade) (4:18 PM) —I rise today to pay tribute to the magnificent work of Leanne Petrides, staff and volunteers at the Cranbourne Information and Support Service. I have had a longstanding admiration for Leanne and her volunteers and the selfless contribution she has made to the Cranbourne Information and Support Service and the local community, which spans the area from Hampton Park to Cranbourne. This service recently celebrated its 31st anniversary, and Leanne has been involved for 11½ of those 31 years.

Much has been made of the Rudd government’s rapid and successful response to the global financial crisis, making us one of the developed countries to avoid a recession. As a government we have managed to keep hundreds of thousands of Australians in jobs who would otherwise be unemployed. However, notwithstanding that, I certainly recognise that many families in my electorate face financial and mortgage stress due to contraction of working hours, separation, divorce, accidents or retrenchments. Therefore, this great service needs increasing resources to deal with an increasing workload. I was very proud therefore to be able to announce an additional $11,000 in funding for the Cranbourne Information and Support Service, on top of its normal annual funding, which will be used to fund an additional day of service that targets low-income families. The service sees between 50 and 100 people per day, so it is an important investment in the local community.

On a recent visit to the service, along with Leanne, I met social worker Doug Thompson, who provides front-line services to families in need, be it financial counselling or general support. The service provides an ear for many who feel others have stopped listening to them, and a shoulder to lean on for many who have had nowhere else to turn. Leanne and her staff provide a holistic rather than a bandaid model of service delivery. This holistic service helps with things like advice and negotiation with landlords, businesses, neighbours and others on debt service and procedural issues, runs share accommodation and volunteer registers, and helps many local people through its crisis support service and counselling service.

Help is also provided on health and family issues and there is assistance with transport and a range of other issues. The service also has outreach services in the fields of legal advice and public tenancy support. The Casey North Community Information and Support Service, which provides similar services, will also benefit from additional government funding in the order of $56,000 to sole parent families. The government remains committed to working families and is acutely aware of the cost of living pressures affecting families across the nation. It was four years ago that I spoke on the Cranbourne Information and Support Service in this place and my determination to support their ongoing work has only strengthened since this time. I commend the work of the service and, on a personal level, I am grateful for the many mums, dads, sons and daughters whom Leanne and her team have helped over the years. As I said, you meet very few people in public life who immediately impress you, and Leanne is certainly one of them. I would just like to say in this House that she is one of those people who you would like to see nominated for an Order of Australia and, you never know, one day, given the commitment to her community, we might see her there.