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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6713

Ms BIRD (12:47 PM) —I rise today to talk about a very important program—under the education portfolio, interestingly enough and auspiced by Minister Arbib. I would say to the member for Bowman that I think the speech delivered by the former Deputy Prime Minister and now Prime Minister elect will go down in the history books, but I doubt his will be noticed today.

On Monday and Tuesday this week I took part in the government’s inaugural Learn. Earn. Legend! work experience in government program, where members and senators hosted 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students in their offices in Canberra. Dzella Sullivan from Atherton came to my Parliament House office for two days work experience. During his time in my office, he wrote a speech which I indicated to him I would read into the Hansard record for this place, and so I will. These are his words:

I’m Dzella Sullivan from Atherton, a town about 45 minutes drive from Cairns, and I’m in grade 11 in Atherton state high school. I was born in Atherton and I’m both Aboriginal and Islander. I have both a younger sister and a younger brother. I’ve been in Atherton for about 12 years my mum took me away from Atherton not long after I was born, we had came back in 1998 when I was 4 to live with my nanna and grandad and eventually got our own place to live and stayed there since then.

Atherton is pretty good place for me, it’s a nice tropical area it has hot days and cold days. We do get a lot of rain during summer but it is usually pretty warm. It’s not like Canberra, I find Canberra is just too cold. When I first came to Canberra I didn’t believe how different it was to Atherton, mainly it was the cold but also how dry Canberra place is.

Like most people I don’t really like school, but I still go because I want to do something in life. I have an interest in art and hospitality even though I’m probably not the best at them. I would really like to get a good job somewhere in hospitality. When I do leave school I would probably move to cairns to try and get a chef apprenticeship somewhere there and hopefully it will go on from there. I to study hospitality and art in school. I started to study it in grade 8 I do pretty well in hospitality and I’m about average in art.

I do well in school, well better than my friends. I’ve probably done more school work then them ever so far in school. They would usually talk about whatever came in to there mind, not listen to the teacher and then get in trouble and then wonder why they got in trouble in the first place. I had about 4 good friends in primary school and my best friend left in grade 6, but I eventually made lots of new friends when I got to high school. The school that I go to does give a good variety of different classes and sometimes good opportunities to help students become what they want to be in the future, but I usually see that most students there don’t take school seriously.

About a month I was asked if I wanted to come to Canberra to do some work experience, at first I was unsure if I did want to go. Over time my family had convinced me to go, mainly because it was a once in a life experience. Now that I’m here I’ve thought to myself that I had made the right decision.

I had to wake up at 2:00 in the morning to catch a flight in Cairns to go to Brisbane, then straight to Canberra, it took about 5 hours to get here from Cairns. When I got to Canberra we were taken to the Rex Hotel. I explored it for a while, not much to do but it was a pretty nice place to stay. My roommate didn’t arrive until about 11:00 at night, I don’t mind him. I made friends pretty fast, mainly with the people in my little group. The thing I found weird is the food we were eating at lunch, that they like eating ham with jam. I got a sandwich that had lettuces, zucchini, ham, and cranberry jam.

On the first day we got a trip down to the history museum which is a great place, a bit different to other museums I’ve gone to.

…            …            …

The next day we had breakfast and went to the Parliament House. We got a few speeches and went to have lunch and were picked up by our parliamentarians for the work experience. It did feel weird when I was picked up because I didn’t know what it would be like. I found it wasn’t that bad, I found that I enjoyed it. The rest of the day was kinda boring, we did end up having a BBQ that night which made it better …

On Tuesday I got to get a tour of Parliament House with a few more people, one of them was my roommate we got to go see places were most people would never see. I got another tour after that with the rest of the students, but it wasn’t really as good as the first one I got. I had another weird sandwich it had avocado, chicken and lettuces.

On Tuesday morning Dzella, Kiah Bobongie from Kerry Rea’s office, Keeden Collins from Joel Fitzgibbon’s office and Britannie Miles from Chris Hayes’s office had the opportunity to visit and tour the office of the Minister for Ageing, the Hon. Justine Elliot MP, with her Chief of Staff Paul Scully, led by my very good staffer Alison Byrnes.

The group met with all of Justine’s staff and found out about their roles and duties. They also went down to the basement, toured the press gallery and went on to the roof of Parliament House. Debra Biggs also gave Dzella a private tour of the Speaker’s office, where he got to see the parliamentary mace. The group ran into the lovely Barb Pini, from the Treasurer’s office, who took them into his office. Do not tell the Treasurer, but I understand that they all got to sit in his chair! Kiah, who attends St Saviour’s College in Toowoomba, said that she found it a tremendous experience as well.

I want to thank all of those people around this place, including my own staff, who went out of their way to give these wonderful young people a tremendous experience on the day. (Time expired)