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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 8601

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (22:25): Tonight I will briefly touch upon some of the organisations and groups which are trying to occasion change and improve people's situations in the electorate of Werriwa. Within a few weeks of the opening of the magnificent hall, resulting from the federal government's monumental BER funding, at the Macquarie Fields Adventist School, I was back there again for the launch of Active 8, a wing of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency's work. A very inspiring speech was made by Josh Battagliola about his perseverance, with the help of positive support, in abandoning drugs, alcohol and antisocial activity. That indeed is what Active 8 in Macquarie Fields is about. With the leadership of Andre Afamasaga, a pastor of the church, and Megan Bellamy, a local resident who is the project coordinator, Active 8 is providing a new service that will not engage or compete with existing local youth services but will, through stressing the positives of the Macquarie Fields region, seek to direct young people to good life choices. They will do this through early intervention, training in life skills and provision of positive support. I was very inspired on that day to see the work of the group, to hear the endless praise for them, to partake of the entertainment they put on and to hear an address from the school captain, Charisma Maua.

Last week, I was with many local elected representatives at the opening of the Liverpool Community Kitchen and Hub, an initiative of the Liverpool City Council. It has brought together a very broad coalition. It is on the premises of the Uniting Church in Pirie Street, Liverpool, but has also involved Anglicare, the Cabramatta Community Centre, Inspire Community Services, Mission Australia and Parramatta Mission. The kitchen provides hot meals to homeless people in the Liverpool region—118 to 150 on any one day. The hub also acts as a centre for social and recreational opportunities for people who are marginalised or do not have other friends. It also seeks to refer people to vital local services and to provide individual local assistance for the homeless. Mike Meyer, from the Inspire Church, was the keynote speaker on behalf of all the partners in this venture. Their vision entails a future laundry and showering facilities. That is another local initiative.

In the past month, I attended a meeting of the Minto Residents Action Group. In the past, they have participated in the Remembering Minto project and they convened and organised the Minto: More than Bricks and Mortar conference. They are close to a public housing community which has, in recent years, seen a redevelopment and a move to mixed tenancy—public and private. They have negotiated for a better deal for public housing tenants in New South Wales. All their prayers were answered recently with the arrival of a new owner for the Minto Mall. There has been an infamous situation there for some years—there had been a sad decline in that shopping operation. At last there is a new owner and there is hope that that will revive it. I put on the record my commendation of the Minto Residents Action Group.

Similarly, I was pleased to attend Sackville Street Public School's participation—one of the few in the region—in National Tree Planting Day. It is worth noting that, in 2012, there were 3,000 national events. A recent survey by Planet Ark indicated that 89 per cent of those regularly caring for children believe that outdoor activity is crucial for their development. National Tree Planting Day events are not only environmentally worthwhile, but they get children away from computers and television. It was great to be there and to see this school participating. It is a school where Principal Neil Robertson remarked to me that his fishing club—he is a keen angler and he makes sure that every troublesome child in the school is a member of the fishing club, which he feels makes them more cooperative in school activities—had recently travelled to Canberra. They have a book fair coming up and the school is the site of the YMCA afterschool project. So there is much activity at that school.

I was also at Curran Public School in the last fortnight. I was there for their public art exhibition. Kathy Strong, the principal and a local resident who grew up in the region, was there. It was great to see the attendance of the New South Wales government's Indigenous liaison officer Kylie Captain and to hear an inspiring speech on leadership by school captain Renee Ryan. This is a school with a strong Indigenous presence. The principal, in the course of her address, stressed the kinds of work that teachers there do outside the hours of nine to five. (Time expired)

House adjourned at 22:30