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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3455

Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (10:00): Today I rise to pay tribute to a true local hero of the Long Gully community. Carol Rasmussen served the Long Gully community for over 25 years. She is the retiring coordinator of the Long Gully Neighbourhood Centre and on Tuesday this week people from across Bendigo gathered to honour her work and service at a lunch. Carol started work in 1984 in the playgroup in Long Gully and from there was promoted to be the coordinator. Carol said it was a privilege to work in the sector and she has made many friends through working with the community. She said at the lunch, 'The community has taught me just as much as I have taught them. I have loved seeing people grow up. It has been lovely to support the community in which I live.' Jodie Watt and Candice Bergman said that Carol was like a mum to them. Debbie Steele, who has worked in the centre for 3½ years, said that Carol was a mentor—'She brought out my confidence. She gave me the ability to approach people and that has helped me go on to find employment.' It is going to be hard to find a new coordinator like Carol. She is a mum, she is an auntie, she is a sister and she is a friend. Kangaroo Flat Community House coordinator Elaine McNamara has worked with Carol for 18 years and she said that Carol has been a tower of strength and a good sounding board—'She is an excellent person to work with and a real coordinator willing to do anything for her community. She will be sadly missed by everybody in the area.'

Our community houses and neighbourhood centres are the backbone of our community. They pick up the jobs that are too tough for others. They ensure that everybody has a mum, a sister or a friend to talk to. They deal with the issues that others quite often do not want to deal with. Whether it be helping young mums, the after-school program that nobody else has or community lunches to ensure that we have community connectedness, our neighbourhood centres are strong foundations for our communities. They reflect what the community needs. In my electorate we have a number of them.

Carol is loved by her community and her leadership will be missed, but she has committed to staying on as a volunteer after retiring and she will continue to be on the lunch roster. I am sure many in Long Gully will be proud to join her for lunch. I call on the federal government to continue to fund great community leaders like Carol in their role as coordinators of our strong community houses and neighbourhood centres. Currently the federal government assists this program by funding half.