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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27465

Mrs ELSON (9:43 AM) —In the limited time available to me today, I want to pay a very special tribute to a community and a remarkable group of young Australians. Last Monday saw the launch of an incredible project that is sure to be the catalyst for similar ventures around the nation. In the rural township of Boonah, which I am proud to represent, the National Youth at the Centre Project was officially launched by the Prime Minister. The launch was marked by the establishment of the local Boonah Youth Foundation, with funding created through the endeavour and enterprise of our young people. The vibrant and enthusiastic young people decided to set themselves the challenge of building a house in just four days, which they would then sell, and establish a foundation that would allow for seed funding for future enterprises led by our local youth.

I am delighted to report that the house was built and that they achieved their goal. It helped to inspire many rural communities throughout the nation. The whole aim of the Youth at the Centre project, which was one of the very first programs to be funded by the Howard government under the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, is to stop the exodus of our young people from rural towns to the city, equip them to participate in their local communities and create economic opportunities for their future. The construction and sale of the cottage to establish the Boonah Youth Foundation was a very tangible and practical exercise which showed what can be achieved. This profoundly engaging concept saw the young people who participated, most of whom came from the local Boonah district, gain the respect and admiration of the whole community. It was a wonderful practical example of the type of social coalition we want to foster in this country.

The cottage that the young people of Boonah created was then purchased by the local high school to use as a special education unit so that young people will continue to reap the benefits of this project for many years to come. The whole construction was only made possible through the support of some very generous sponsors and some very special townspeople. I would like to mention Super Cheap Auto, which donated $20,000; Abbottsfield Country Cottages; and Bob and Marlene Carroll of Kooroomba Vineyards at Boonah. They quickly came forward to help when the call went out for sponsorship.

I am very glad that the Prime Minister was able to take up the offer to officially launch the project and the local foundation and see first-hand this tremendous effort. Everyone involved was absolutely thrilled when the Prime Minister then announced that his government would back their efforts by donating an extra $25,000.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to personally name and congratulate everyone who worked on the cottage or helped with the catering for the big launch, which was really a magnificent occasion. But to Glenn, Michael, Nicole, Zoe, Leesa, Alinta and Darren and all the young people involved I say that we are extremely proud that collectively you had the vision to dream such a dream and the energy and drive to make it a reality. I know that all adults who witnessed it, and especially those who actively supported you, were impressed by your achievement. I would like to add a special thanks to Wendy Creighton and Rick Stanfield, who for many years have had a burning desire to see that our local youths' talents are recognised and supported and to give them the opportunity to reach their potential and to achieve their goals. Their support and coordination were greatly appreciated. (Time expired)