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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 298

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsDeputy Manager of Opposition Business) (11:11): I rise to congratulate my constituent Laura John on her appointment as the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations for 2014. Laura was appointed to this position on 12 December 2013 after a competitive selection process undertaken by UN Youth and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Laura's commitment to the community started during her school years at Kilbreda College, where she actively promoted multicultural and multifaith activities, as well as raising money for schools in Timor-Leste. After completing school Laura continue her service to the community while studying arts and law at Monash University. In 2013 she was awarded the City of Kingston Young Citizen of the Year Award for her contribution to a range of youth and multicultural committees and networks. Laura has volunteered as a paralegal with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and has completed an internship with United Nations High Commission for Refugees. She has also completed a placement in New York with the human rights organisation Human Rights First in their refugee protection program. The people of our community have also benefited from Laura's work as a volunteer and, later, as a part-time employee in my electorate office.

Laura's parents, Bala and Loretta, emigrated to Australia from Sri Lanka in 1988 with Laura's older sister Liza. Laura was born the following year, and, like so many children of migrants, she takes pride in Australia and in her parents' culture and heritage. Laura has shown through her community activities her values of service and compassion, as well as her international perspective and social conscience. It is appropriate that Laura takes her advocacy for social justice and youth issues to the international stage. In September this year Laura will represent Australian youth when she addresses the United Nations Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee at the United Nations New York headquarters. Before this, Laura will travel across Australia for five months consulting with young Australians from our capital cities and our regional and rural towns about issues that are of most concern to them. The lives of young Australians will be influenced by the decisions made by our current and future governments, and by deliberations between governments undertaken at the United Nations. It is right that the voice of youth be heard, and that we support such initiatives promoted by groups like UN Youth. I congratulate Laura on her outstanding achievement, and wish her every success in her role as the 2014 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. Without doubt, the contribution made to the community by young people like Laura will help build a better Australia and a more harmonious and just world.