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Thursday, 25 February 2016
Page: 2328


Ms SCOTT (Lindsay) (10:53): Last week, I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful organisation that is opening its doors on Henry Street, Penrith—that is, SydWest. SydWest does some brilliant work in the space of providing settlement services to those people who are new to Australia. Their particular space in helping refugees who have come from war-torn countries to get to their feet in our country and to help their kids get to school is really second to none. This new facility that we opened on Henry Street in Penrith comes with $1.1 million of funding from the federal government. It was wonderful to see brilliant ladies there, like Chandrika Subramaniyan and Elfa Moraitakis, who are heading up this wonderful organisation. It was also great to be there with Penrith mayor, Karen McKeown. The SydWest organisation is now 30 years old.

One of my favourite stories about some of the challenges that people have when they come to Australia was about a Sudanese family—a lovely lady who had worked really hard, and her English skills were very good. She was visited by a PhD student, and she was doing this research on how we can better provide settlement services. While the student was sitting there, she noticed that the Sudanese lady's baby was coughing quite badly. The researcher said, 'What's wrong with your baby?' and the woman said, 'My baby's got a cold.' So the researcher went and got the mother a bottle of benadryl and said, 'Here you go; use the benadryl.' The Sudanese mother had quite good English skills and her reading skills were quite good. When the researcher came back a week later, the baby was still coughing. She said, 'Your baby's coughing. Did you give your baby the benadryl?' and she said, 'I couldn't understand the directions.' Providing skills and settlement services for new Australians goes far beyond just teaching English. It is helping people, caring for people and understanding all sorts of different aspects that is needed.

I would really like to pay tribute to some wonderful people, like the Angels of Mercy at Mamre House, who for many years have helped so many families; Om Dhungel, who has done a great amount of work with the Bhutanese and Nepalese communities; and Laura Sardo, from Nepean Migrant Access. These programs are brilliant.

Western Sydney is becoming more and more culturally diverse. How we work together and become this melting pot of so many cultures from right around the world is really crucial. I look at brilliant organisations, people like the Western Sydney Wanderers. Many years ago, we saw all these soccer clubs that had all these different types of wars. But now you see the Western Sydney Wanderers play and you see every culture, every language and every religion under the sun filling Pirtek Stadium, all singing for the Wanderers.

That is what settlement services provide. That is what culturally diverse services provide. We are one Australia, and I think that is what is really important. I really thank all of these people for their work and for the work that they will be doing into the future. I congratulate them on their vision—how they are undertaking their tasks. To all new Australians: I welcome you to Penrith and I look forward to seeing you also being wonderful success stories in our region.