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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11731

Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (17:48): It is always a pleasure to rise in this place and speak about the great things that are going on in our various communities. I would like to take this opportunity tonight to mention some of the terrific community events that I had the pleasure of attending over the weekend and the people and organisations who are doing great things in the electorate of Forde.

On Friday night we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Access Community Services. It was indeed a pleasure to attend what was, in effect, their inaugural gala dinner. Access Community Services is Queensland's leading provider in settlement, employment and training opportunities for our migrant communities. As Queensland's population has grown and we welcome more migrants to south-east Queensland, the team at Access Community Services are empowering individuals to take charge of their futures. Indeed, that was the theme of the night: 'access to the future'. Access Community Services helps young people train and find employment and provides vital support services to our migrants and refugees who have come to this great country to start a new life. Every day they are helping people realise their value and provide them with the opportunities to be the best version of themselves. In turn, the team at Access Community Services are building strong communities where people participate, feel valued and have a greater quality of life.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate CEO Gail Ker, whose constant support and dedication over the past 20 years to this organisation has played such a huge role in its success. Behind Gail there is a passionate, hardworking and committed team of individuals who have grown this organisation to be the success that it is today. It is thanks to support services like Access Community Services that we see the south-east of Queensland as such a fantastic place to live for our migrants and refugees. And we are continuing to see this growth in ethnic and cultural diversity throughout Australia. In Queensland alone, and in my local community of Logan city, we are home to people who speak more than 220 languages and hold more than 100 religious beliefs. I am very proud we come from a part of Australia where this cultural diversity is our strength.

I grew up in Waterford and I have seen the community change over those years. When I was growing up, I can remember that it was a community that reflected our European heritage; today you see faces from all parts of the world, from different cultures and ethnicities, and that is what brings such colour and vibrancy to our community today. As a member of the Logan: City of Choice leadership team, Access Community Services have also been extremely supportive as we have addressed some of the challenges that face our community from time to time. I look forward to continuing to work with Gail and the team at Access Community Services, and I wish them every success for the next 30 years at least.

On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending the Beenleigh Yatala Chamber of Commerce inaugural gala dinner to celebrate 150 years of business achievements in our region. Many thanks to the chamber of commerce team, including president Lawrie Dore, operations officer Michael Rose, and many others, including Anje Pieper, one of the board members, for the wonderful work she did in preparing the room for the evening. It was a tremendous event to celebrate that milestone of 150 years of business in our local community. I would also like to thank the team at Chef Express who prepared a fantastic menu, much of the produce coming from our region's local suppliers.

The Beenleigh region has a fascinating history, dating back to the 1840s when Brisbane stopped being a convict settlement and people were allowed to settle and farm the land. With the Logan and Albert Rivers providing the most convenient means of transport, the Beenleigh region became home to successful sugar plantations. During its prime, there were at least 12 mills in the immediate district, with some farmers also building their own mills. From this, and drawing on the production of molasses, Beenleigh also saw the creation of a successful rum industry. The Beenleigh Rum distillery is still operating today, making it the oldest operating rum distillery in Australia. Other industries included dairy and other farming activities. As the region's farming community grew, so did the township, with churches, a school, police barracks, a courthouse and eventually a hospital.

Today, the Beenleigh Yatala region is home to many successful and entrepreneurial businesses, from small businesses to large manufacturers, distribution, construction and, yes, still agriculture. The Beenleigh Yatala business community is the strength of our region, providing jobs and training and boosting our local economy.

I am proud to be part of a government that is working towards improving these trading opportunities for these businesses. The small business measures passed during the 2015 budget have helped and are continuing to help many of the businesses grow and prosper. In addition, the free trade agreements are opening doors for many of these businesses to expand their trade and business opportunities internationally, and this in turn provides more local jobs.

Finally, I had the opportunity to attend the celebrations at the South East Suns Australian Football Club annual presentation night. In their inaugural year it was a terrific opportunity to reflect on what was a tremendously successful season. The club are very proud of their achievements in the first year, with their senior side making it all the way to the grand final against Bond University and the reserve side finishing third on the ladder, also earning them a place in the finals. In 2014, the former club, the Logan Cobras, played their final season before changing to their new entity, the South East Suns. This was all part of AFL Queensland's major restructure to all SEQAFL competitions in September 2013. It is fantastic to see a club with their transition having been such a tremendous success.

I congratulate the South East Suns president, Ben Head, for his vision and hard work, as he and his committee have built two successful teams and a positive environment for families, children and friends to watch AFL. Building a successful club like the South East Suns requires a small army of volunteers, dedicated members, generous sponsors and passionate supporters. On Saturday night, I had the pleasure of seeing all of the above and can see why the South East Suns have had such a successful season.

This season the club reached every goal they set out to achieve, and they already have big plans for next season. They hope to build a solid core of junior membership, and I have no doubt that they will be able to achieve this too. Most hearteningly, the senior team coach came and spoke to me on Saturday night, saying that he wants to get the team members actively involved in the local community next year, most specifically getting involved with helping people who are homeless. It is a deliberate strategy of his to connect the players with the community rather than them just being a club that the community comes and visits. I would like to congratulate him on that initiative and look forward to working with him in the new year on that. My congratulations to the board, the players, the volunteers and the staff for an outstanding season both on and off the field. I look forward to following the club's successes in the new year.