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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1958

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (16:06): I rise today to talk about an extraordinary young man named Christopher Klepacz. I was honoured last week to be able to present him with a belated 2018 Holt Australia Day Award. Christopher is a young man of tremendous courage and resilience who has overcome much in his young life. He was born with cerebral palsy. He studies VCAL at Hampton Park Secondary College and this year he's started year 12 and has also started a Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology at the Narre Warren Community Learning Centre.

Last year, Chris set himself the goal of learning how to advocate for himself more effectively on a range of public and social issues. In one instance, Chris visited the Victorian parliament to present his concerns to the inquiry into civics and electoral participation in Victorian state parliamentary elections. As a result of his advocacy work, Christopher has been nominated for a Victorian Young Achiever Award.

He has also raised his concerns publicly about the NDIS. Chris wants to make sure that young people with a disability under the NDIS get the best possible funding package in the future.

He has also submitted his wish to the Starlight Children's Foundation to visit the Australian parliament later on this year, and I am very pleased to say that the Starlight Children's Foundation have granted his wish and will provide funding for a trip to Canberra for Christopher. He has informed me that he is excited to come to question time. I'll need to talk to him about that!

I'd just like to commend Christopher to this House. He is a wonderful example of a young man who has overcome tremendous odds to make a difference to others' lives.