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Monday, 9 November 2015
Page: 12596


Mr COLEMAN (Banks) (19:34): I am very pleased this evening to have the opportunity during this grievance debate to talk about a number of important organisations in my local community that I have been able to visit in recent weeks. We have a very strong and cohesive community in Banks. There are many reasons for that, but one of the reasons is the strength of the local P&C community. We have about 50 schools in my electorate.

Just yesterday, Hurstville South Public School held a Lego fair, which they called the St George Brick Fair. It was a very well attended event. I counted several hundred people in the time I was there, so I think you could safely put it in four figures for the attendance over the day. We all happily paid our $6 entry fee to the P&C. It was a terrific event. The school hall was full of elaborate Lego creations. We have all at various stages in our lives put together Lego models but nothing quite as spectacular as we saw at Hurstville South Public School yesterday. Over 500,000 blocks were involved in the display and it was really impressive. A play area was set up for kids who were perhaps inspired by some of the big Lego creations to have a go themselves. It was really good stuff from the Hurstville South Public School.

I would like to congratulate the president Brenton Hamdorf and Warren Mak, who was really instrumental in the day. Warren and I corresponded about me coming along and I was very pleased to be able to do so with my family yesterday afternoon. He is very passionate about the school and, indeed, about Lego. The principal Phillip Rouland was there too, providing support to the P&C who organised such a successful event. To the school, particularly the P&C, congratulations on a very well promoted and successful event. I look forward to attending next year as well.

Also last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Narwee Baptist Church's creative crafts group. This group has been meeting for more than 30 years in the church hall, and it is a very large group. About 100 people each week meet and do a range of creative crafts. They have tables set up with the different themes. There will be an embroidery table, a card-making table, a bag-making table, a crochet table, a jewellery table and so on. The group was founded by Christine Clausen some 30 years ago and still gets together every week under Christine's guidance. Not only does it provide an important social outlet for the people who gather each week; it has also returned a very positive contribution to our broader community through some very generous donations to local charities and to students.

Each week, the people who come along pay $5 towards coffee, tea and biscuits. It may be that there is little profit in that $5 and that gets donated each year to local charities. This year, the charity in question is motor neurone disease, an awful disease, and the group are on track to raising many thousands of dollars. Also over the past 30 years, the group has facilitated training for nurses through providing $5,000 scholarships. Twenty-one witnesses have been supported. So that is over $100,000 worth of scholarships from the Narwee Baptist creative craft group. I would like to thank the church for enabling the creative craft group to meet each week and to use the church facilities. It really is a fantastic group and I was very pleased to visit.

We also have an important community centre located in Kingsgrove. The Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre has been around for a very long time and is really a focal point not just for Kingsgrove but for the broader St George community. It is very well led by its charismatic CEO Ann Farah Hill. Ann leaves local representatives such as myself in doubt as to the needs of the Kingsgrove community centre and the broader community. I always appreciate getting her frank advice on what is required for the centre and for our community more generally.

My electorate has the highest proportion of Australians of Chinese background of any electorate in the nation—around 20 per cent of all people being of Chinese background. The Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre, through running classes for both the Cantonese-speaking group and the Mandarin-speaking group, provide a lot of support—especially to elderly people—in the Chinese Australian community. The seniors social-support group is one of the particularly important activities, but they do a lot more too—childcare services, language classes, art therapy, autism support groups and a whole lot more.

Earlier this year, the then Minister for Communications—now Prime Minister—visited my electorate to help me in honouring some of our great local volunteers. Mr Yuchun Zhao of the Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre was recognised at the Volunteer of the Year awards night for his work assisting the Chinese community through the Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre. To Mr Zhao, to Anne Farah-Hill and to all of the scores of people who are involved in the Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre, thank you for what you do for our community.

A couple of week ago, on Sunday, 25 October it was good, again, to be joined by the Prime Minister and my colleague the member for Barton at the annual Being Greek Festival at Carss Park. The electorates of Banks and Barton both have very substantial populations of Greek background. Each year, for the last four years I believe it is, the festival has been organised by the Kogarah Greek orthodox church and supported by the Kogarah City Council. Carss Park is a magnificent spot, and we gathered there this year to enjoy some fantastic food, dancing, cultural entertainment and, I might say, a very fine speech by the Prime Minister who talked about the incredibly close bonds between Australia and Greece.

The festival is generally held around the time of Oxi Day—famously, the day in which the Greek people stood up and said, 'No!' to the advancing Germans during World War II. The importance of that day in Greek culture is not to be underestimated. There were many thousands of people at the event and it was a tremendous celebration. I thank the Greek Orthodox parish at Kogarah and, indeed, Kogarah City Council for their efforts.

Also, recently, I attended the Penshurst War Widows Guild and it was a humbling meeting. Many of the ladies in the Penshurst War Widows Guild are widows of World War II veterans. While I would not be so impolite as to reveal their ages, you can see that these are women who have been in our community for a very long time. As someone who was born in the 1970s, it often strikes me that my generation has not been required to make the same level of sacrifice as those gone by and no-one no more so than the generation represented by the Penshurst War Widows Guild.

I would like to thank Julie Taylor, the president, and Freda Thompson, the treasurer, and thank the ladies of the War Widows Guild for the hospitality they showed me. I would like to thank them, again, on behalf of our community, for the extraordinary contribution their husbands and they themselves made to the security of our nation. We would not be here if it were not for them.