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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11121

Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (16:11): I too rise to reflect on the fact that last sitting week I had the pleasure of hosting one of our local Indigenous students, Ashleen Romano from Chisholm Catholic College, who also took part in the Learn Earn Legend! work experience program. I had the pleasure of having Ashleen in our office for the couple of days, and we also took her for a tour around Parliament House with the other students who were taking part in the program. Ashleen had the opportunity to enjoy question time—although I wonder sometimes whether we can use that word in conjunction with question time!—and she also had the opportunity to visit the Australian Institute of Sport and the Australian War Memorial. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with Ashleen while she was here, and it is the second year that we have taken part in it. Ashleen hopes to pursue a career in environmental science and become an environmental officer in the mining industry. Ashleen said that the week in Canberra had given her a motivational boost and had made her realise that being Indigenous could open a lot of doors and that she actually did have an enormous opportunity that she had not realised. Ashleen hopes that one day she will be able to address the environmental issues such as chemicals in rivers and waterways that we face in some of our mining towns. I wish Ashleen all the best for her future aspirations. She is a lovely, bright young lady, and it was a pleasure to have her in my office for those few days.

Also over the weekend we had the pleasure of attending the annual Beenleigh Show. As always, there were a couple of days of fun filled activities, camel rides—which I did not take part in this year—fireworks and the old tug of war competition. I think Queensland won this year; hooray for the Queenslanders! But it was a fun filled weekend for everybody, and my congratulations go to Annette Mundt and the Beenleigh Show society for the work they did.

I also had the pleasure on Friday of attending Saint Stephen's College for the opening of their iCentre and Japanese garden. The iCentre is a fabulous new addition to the school, with state-of-the-art learning and research space for prep to year 12, and the Japanese garden was a fabulous example of how well that school is maintained and looked after.

I also attended on Saturday the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans' Association celebration of the 65th anniversary of Australia's involvement with peacekeeping operations around the world. My thanks go out to all who have been involved in our peacekeeping operations over those past 65 years. It is a tremendous heritage that we hear little about. I hope that we retain those people in our memory as well as we do all others who have served this country. (Time expired)