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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9223

Mr HAYES (Fowler) (10:39): Last Saturday I had the honour of attending the Lifeline Macarthur Annual Volunteer Dinner at the Campbelltown RSL Club. It was the sixth consecutive time I have attended this important event, which acknowledges and celebrates the tremendous contribution Lifeline volunteers make to our local community.

The dinner also provided us with the opportunity to say thank you to the individuals who selflessly dedicate their time and energy to assist others. Volunteers are essential in our society and without them many local organisations, including Lifeline, would not be able to endure.

Currently there are 6.4 million Australians who give their time and energy to assist their fellow Australians in need—and 350 of them volunteer with Lifeline Macarthur.

It is a fact of life that from time to time we will experience various levels of stress and difficulty. For some people the difficulties run deep and for far too long, to the point where they are no longer able to cope on their own. At times like this it is good to know that there are people on hand at the other end of the telephone who will offer a calm and supportive voice. Lifeline Macarthur is a 24/7 telephone crisis support line and it takes as many as 430,000 calls a year dealing with suicide. This is a tremendously large number of people who are given support in difficult times, and a large number of lives that may have, indeed, been saved. As an ambassador of Lifeline I have acknowledged on a number of occasions that it is one of the most exemplary local organisations throughout our communities.

Lifeline Macarthur started in 1978 and provided assistance to the people of the Macarthur region. Since then it has continued to expand in a number of surrounding areas throughout New South Wales, including Liverpool and Fairfield in my electorate of Fowler. I would like to praise the efforts of Lifeline Macarthur CEO, Peter Mihajlovic, the chair of the board, Dennis Roams, the many staff and, most importantly, the 350 volunteers. Together with the member for Macarthur I am in the process of establishing Parliamentary Friends of Lifeline, a group which I hope other members will support.

On behalf of a very grateful community I thank Lifeline Macarthur and each and every one of the staff and volunteers who generously give of their time and energy to assist and serve others. To all the volunteers: your efforts, care and concern for our community have not only changed the lives of many but, for those at the absolute pit of despair and depression, have saved lives. (Time expired)