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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11664

Mr BILLSON (Dunkley) (10:40): I rise to share my optimism, hope and aspirations for the young people of the Dunkley community. As I move around the electorate, I cannot help but be inspired by young people. There is this delicious world of possibilities out there, but it is our task to help them navigate, prepare for and take advantage of those changes. You might be aware of my education in a former housing commission area; I am surrounded by gifted people in all walks of life, in all parts and in all facets of our community. But not all have the aspiration, the confidence and the support to achieve their best selves. That is something I continue to focus on.

Your postcode does not determine your potential. You are able to make the best of this great world out there, wherever you come from, whatever your life's journey and wherever you sit—on the good fortune side of the street or otherwise. But it is important for people to turn up. I always emphasise the point: the world is run by people who turn up. You need to get involved, to contribute, to show what you are capable of doing and to learn and benefit from those around you. That is why I am so excited that, in a few short weeks, I will be opening the Mornington youth hub, a focal point for the northern Mornington Peninsular, where all service providers can come together—a one-stop shop, a welcoming place for young people not only to draw out what the opportunities might be for their future but also to overcome some challenges and obstacles they may face.

One of the organisations that will be making use of this very exciting facility is headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation. They do great work, and I love what they do. They have the Timebank program, where young people who might be detached from the mainstream can go out and get amongst volunteering opportunities, to expand and explore their own capacity, and as a result of turning up they are rewarded with points, and those points go in the bank. Those points can be redeemed for a number of things—cheaper visits to Macca's, maybe the cinema, bowling—all those sorts of things that are socially and in a leisure sense quite attractive. But most are not using the points for that purpose; what they are doing is warehousing those points for the ultimate prize, the ultimate reward—that is, a work placement.

Young people want the chance to show what they are capable of doing, to develop their capacity and what they have in their kitbag and to be able to validate and verify that for others. That is why this program is so important. That is why Citibank, the US financial services firm, has come to Frankston, to bring some money, in US dollars—so we like the exchange rate being where it is—to help work with those that are detached from the mainstream of our community, to give them the foundations and confidence to make the very best of their lives. This is the story of our community. This is the ambition for my work as their local advocate. But we are looking for more people to help us.

Local businesses, come on! Come forward and offer a work placement opportunity. Big corporates wanting to do something worthwhile and virtuous, get behind these programs. I am on the hunt for sponsors. I am happy to talk to anyone. This is about giving our young people their very best chance to be their best selves. That is what gets me out of bed every day.