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Thursday, 6 April 2000
Page: 15478

Mrs MOYLAN (5:30 PM) —It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House this evening to talk about the Green Corps program and its operation within the electorate of Pearce. The Green Corps program was announced by the government in 1996 with initial funding of $41 million, providing 3,500 places over a three-year period. Following the success of the program, the government announced funding in the 1999-2000 budget of approximately $90 million to continue the program for a further four years, providing 6,800 places.

I rise to speak about this because I visited a number of Green Corps programs in the electorate of Pearce. It is tremendous to see how the young people who volunteer for the Green Corps program grow and develop over the six-month course that they undertake. The enthusiasm is just fantastic. The most recent graduation that I attended was the Central Wheatbelt Green Corps program on Friday, 31 March. Prior to that I have attended numerous other launches and graduations around the electorate, and a number of those have been at Paruna Sanctuary. Attending these has given me the opportunity to see first hand the benefits that this program brings to our young people and the way it helps them to develop.

At Paruna, for example, participants have completed all kinds of environmental work, from building dedicated walk paths to putting up fences. I have enjoyed the fruits of their labour on many occasions with family and friends walking through this sanctuary. It is just stunningly beautiful. More recently the central wheatbelt project had participants working with catchment groups and farmers to collect seeds, establish seed banks, complete remnant vegetation surveys, and carry out weed and erosion control measures. This is very important in my electorate because my electorate is a very fragile environment where salt encroachment and erosion are major problems. These young people are contributing to the solution to those problems, ensuring that my electorate can go on being a major producer of wheat, sheep and clean food for the rest of Australia and indeed for export. So they are making a very real and important contribution.

The benefits to the young people participating are that they learn how to work with a team and they have confidence by the end of the six months in getting up and speaking—and some of them have given absolutely outstanding presentations at those graduations. It is terrific to see them grow in confidence, knowledge and stature.

I am very heartened by the involvement of young people. You get the feeling they will be proud to go back to those areas that they have helped restore, with their children and grandchildren, and say, `I participated in this.' I think we can take heart that young people are taking more and more interest in the environment. This program is adding to that bank of knowledge and ensuring that a whole generation of young people will be able to continue on very important work in the preservation of the environment for the benefit of our country and the people who live here.

The other fantastic thing about the Green Corps project is that it brings communities together. At those graduations I have met parents, grandparents and many different community groups that have worked with the young people to make sure the best possible results are had. It brings older and younger people together, bridging sometimes the generation gap that keeps them separated. It is very important to involve them. Finally, I would like to say how fortunate we are as a country to have the kind of young people who are prepared to go out into their community and plant the shade trees under which they know they will never sit.