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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 1016

Mr MITCHELL (4:35 PM) —Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Whittlesea Community Connections International Volunteer Day picnic, which recognises the invaluable benefits and contributions that our community receives due to the hard work and the dedication of the many unsung people who donate their time so freely for our community. The picnic is a great annual event which is held at Hawkstowe Park on Plenty Road, inside what we call ‘Fortress Scullin’, which is of course the electorate of the honourable Speaker of this place, Mr Harry Jenkins. The picnic is a way for the City of Whittlesea to pay tribute to and thank all the precious volunteers. I had the pleasure of being there with Councillor Pam McLeod and the Mayor, Rex Griffin, cooking up and serving the volunteers some sausages, vegie burgers and salad on bread while the kids got their faces painted and went and played with the animals at the petting zoo. Bunnings were also there in attendance and they had some plant-potting exercises for people.

Despite the weather there was a huge turnout of people who came to be recognised for the work that they do, whether it be in sporting clubs or in places like Community Connections, where they look after people who are going through some pretty tough times. We have some really good volunteers locally to get out there and help them. I also want to congratulate Whittlesea Community Connections for their commitment and dedication to the community—as I said, particularly those who are disadvantaged and struggling. Whittlesea Community Connections offer free services and programs to address disadvantage in our community and to promote community participation and involvement.

I was also fortunate enough to attend the Panton Hill Rural Fire Brigade’s Ash Wednesday memorial ceremony and concert. I was there to pay tribute to the fallen firefighters and, in particular, those brave volunteers from Panton Hill who lost their lives in the Ash Wednesday fires when they travelled across town to help other communities in need. This very moving and personal ceremony was held in the memorial park at Panton Hill, which was built in recognition of the service those guys gave. There was an interesting story there about how there were no planning permits or anything. They just got in, dug it, built up the amphitheatre and put the stage up. The community has enjoyed it ever since as a fantastic part of Panton Hill to be in. Local artist Leslie Avril and Black Cat Bone provided some music and entertainment for all the community members who were there and it was broadcast on Plenty Valley FM, another great local community radio station. At these events we acknowledge the importance of our volunteers and we thank them for giving their time and, in the case of the five local firefighters, paying the ultimate sacrifice to help all of our communities.