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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13857


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (09:53): Thirty-four per cent of the Australian adult population volunteer. They contribute over 700,000 hours of volunteer work each year. Today I rise to say thank you to those who choose to volunteer overseas. Our international volunteers work tirelessly in developing countries all over the world, including the Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, often playing a vital role in the fight against poverty and making a profound difference to communities that they serve.

I would particularly like to acknowledge some of the incredible individuals from my electorate who have recently returned from overseas service. Apineru Apineru volunteered in Cambodia for Habitat Humanity Australia; Wesley Baker volunteered for ABV in East Timor; Joseph Elias volunteered as a protection adviser through Australian Volunteers International in Lebanon; Renee Grant volunteered his time in the Philippines with Habitat Humanity Australia; Hazel Maglantay volunteered as an organisational development adviser in the Philippines; Cara McGrath volunteered in Cambodia for Habitat Humanity Australia; Mel Chung Ng, through UnitingWorld, worked in Fiji as one of the medical personnel with the Fiji eye care team; and Daniel Tay, through Habitat Humanity Australia, volunteered his time in Indonesia.

Lastly, I thank and congratulate a very special young lady, Katrina Lancaster, who not only deserves recognition for her volunteer work in Samoa but also, on Tuesday night, won the Young Disability Challenge Award at the Australian government's National Disability Awards. That is an incredible achievement. As a young deaf woman, Katrina displayed outstanding leadership qualities running youth empowerment projects and working with schools to build a network of deaf youths to share information with students and families so that they are equipped for life as deaf adults. Her volunteering has led her across international borders to Samoa, where she helps to equip deaf Samoans to take leadership in the development of their community and to work towards full inclusion for themselves and for others with disability.

Katrina and all the other volunteers act as great ambassadors for Australia. By serving in the way they do, they change their own lives forever, develop a perspective on the world that few of us share and change the lives of those they serve. Through volunteering they strive for the great Australian spirit of a fair go for everyone. I thank them all and express my deep appreciation for their efforts.