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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 2041

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (10:52): Last Friday, I was honoured to host the Macarthur 2013 National Volunteer Awards. The annual awards acknowledge volunteers from my electorate who are dedicated to supporting community groups and organisations in Macarthur. This year we had a record number of people nominated for the awards, which are in several different categories, including education, environment, long-term commitment, dedication to charity, sport and recreation, junior, youth, senior and Macarthur volunteer of the year. There were so many entries of outstanding calibre that the judges had a tough time choosing the winners.

I am proud today to announce the winners of the 2013 Macarthur Volunteer Awards: Macarthur Volunteer Of the Year Award, Brian Aitken; Junior Volunteer Award, Ani Hoxha; Youth Volunteer Award, Claire Golding; Senior Volunteer Award, 65 and over, Dawn Kershaw; Business Volunteer Award joint winners, Maria and Adam Sapienza from Macarthur Castles, and Kerry Shephard; Dedication to Charity Award, Steve Wisbey; sport and recreation, John McGrath; innovation in volunteering, Youth Solutions Youth Advisory Group; long-term commitment to volunteering, Beverley Gray; highly commended long-term commitment to volunteering, Phil Fitzpatrick; Education Volunteer Award, Robert Townson High School QuikShine team; highly commended education, Tim Time; emergency management volunteer, Jeff Wood; Environment Volunteer Award, Shane Djurdjevic; and highly commended environment volunteer, First Appin Scouts.

As I said, Brian Aitken has been named Macarthur Volunteer of the Year for 2013. Brian is a director of the Obesity Support Council, which he established in 2011. The council supports obese people living in Macarthur through education, intervention and a telephone counselling service and advice. Brian once weighed 225 kilograms and was confined to a wheelchair. He suffered from type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea. Brian overcame his own health problems and now volunteers 75 hours per week to support others living with obesity. He also volunteers with the SES, RFS and the local Scouts.

I have said many times before in this place that volunteers are the heart and soul of my community. We have some fantastic charities and community organisations in Macarthur that simply could not run without the ongoing support and sacrifice of our volunteers. It was obvious that the volunteers who were recognised at the awards ceremony on Friday do not do it to receive thanks or praise; they do it because they want to give back to our community and help others, and that is what makes them so special. It is important that we as members of parliament take the opportunity to thank our volunteers for the wonderful work they do in our electorates.

I would like to thank all the people who nominated or volunteered for this year's awards. I would also like to thank my fellow judges, David Cadden from Macarthur Credit Union, Iliana Stillitano from the Camden NarellanAdvertiser, Amanda Partridge from the Macarthur Chronicle and Brooke Manzione from Youth Solutions. I commend all of the dedicated volunteers in my electorate. I know the people in Macarthur appreciate your generosity, dedication, compassion and reliability when helping others in the community. It is because of you that Macarthur is the best place to live in Australia, so as the member for Macarthur I humbly thank you for everything you do. I would also like to thank Michelle, Carla and Laura from my office for their efforts in organising a wonderful event, which everybody appreciated on the day. I commend the member for Solomon for her elevation to the Speaker's panel.