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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3456

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (10:04): I am pleased to report to the House the special achievement of a constituent of the electorate of Hughes who on 7 March was awarded a prestigious honour by the New South Wales Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Lakshmi Logathassan from the suburb of Holsworthy on being named the inaugural New South Wales young woman of the year. It is a great honour and one that is richly deserved. The award was a new category in the New South Wales government Women of the Year awards held annually on the eve of International Women's Day, with the winner chosen by public vote. I thank all my constituents and friends on my Facebook page who voted for Lakshmi.

This year's group of over 200 candidates was outstanding, with a long list of very impressive achievements. Lakshmi's success is a credit to her dedication to community work. I first came into contact with Lakshmi in 2011, when she entered into the annual essay-writing competition I hold for year 11 students within the seat of Hughes. The prize on that occasion was to hear President Obama's address to the House of Representatives during his 2011 visit. I was immediately impressed with Lakshmi and her long list of achievements. As school captain of St George Girls High School, Lakshmi initiated a program that collected government funded disused laptops from school leavers and donated them to students in developing countries. For these efforts Lakshmi was recognised with a New South Wales Minister's Award for Excellence in Student Achievement.

Lakshmi has sought to address the pressing need for readily accessible computer resources in developing countries. Now in its third year, the program has branched out to a number of schools across Sydney which are collecting hundreds of disused laptops and sending them to schoolchildren in developing countries. The first beneficiaries of Lakshmi's laptop initiative were students in war affected regions of Sri Lanka and Kenya. Lakshmi has continued to build on her success with the laptop computer project by being part of a team that last year was successful in receiving a grant from the Holroyd City Council Community Assistance Program. That grant will fund a program that will teach computer skills to newly arrived migrants. We are all very proud of Lakshmi, and we look forward to her continued success and her inspirational community work.

I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the other award winners of the New South Wales Woman of the Year, Turia Pitt and community hero Faten El Dana. Congratulations to all. And in the remaining time I have, I would like to also congratulate Lakshmi's parents, who came down to Canberra and sat in my office to watch President Obama's address. They are great citizens of our country who have come from a war affected region. They have a wonderful daughter, and they should be congratulated.