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Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Page: 8510

Dr STONE (9:54 AM) —I want to pay tribute to the Goulburn Valley Vietnam Veterans Association, who are in a part of Australia which has had one of the worst droughts on record for over five years. On Saturday night they gathered together in the Tongala Hall to raise funds to support an extraordinarily important effort being made in Cambodia: the work of Tony Bower-Miles as he tries to deactivate the six million mines that still remain in Cambodia. These are mines that are disabling children and that are making sure some land remains unusable or unproductive—a legacy of the war some 30 or so years ago.

The Goulburn Valley Vietnam Veterans Association, led very ably on this occasion by Gwen and Graeme James, decided, despite their hardships in surviving this drought, to go all out to try and raise at least $7,000 to help buy landmine detectors and body armour and also to contribute to the orphanages in Cambodia, where some of the disabled children who have stepped on these mines end up, so that the children can at least be cared for in their early days.

I am very proud to be a patron of the Goulburn Valley Vietnam Veterans Association. They have worked very hard to support one another, particularly those who need special counselling and support as a result of the legacy of their war effort. The veterans’ contribution to Australia was enormous at the time of the Vietnam War. As we know, Vietnam veterans were often, until very recently, not given the proper regard that they should have been given, and the lack of that regard when they came back led to a great deal of anguish and ongoing issues of distress.

The Goulburn Valley Vietnam Veterans Association had a fantastic time on Saturday night at the Tongala Hall. The use of the hall was donated by the Campaspe Shire. All of the goods for auction, the door prizes and the raffle items were donated by local businesses. The people there enjoyed themselves, knowing that while they are doing it so tough they were contributing to good work in Cambodia. I acknowledge in particular the efforts of Tony Bower-Miles—himself of course a Vietnam veteran—to make the world a safer place for children. I commend the incredible compassion and hard work of all involved. It was a great night and they raised over $7,000. It might not sound like an enormous amount in the scheme of things but in a drought stressed community like mine it is an enormous effort. I am proud to be the patron of that group and I commend their effort as an example of people being great Australians.