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Tuesday, 5 June 2001
Page: 27326

Ms GAMBARO (10:44 PM) —I would like to comment on the member for Bowman's tribute to Eddie Santagiuliana. He was a fine man of the shire. I share the other side of Moreton Bay, and I know that he worked tirelessly for his area in the way that was described by the member for Bowman, so I would like to pay my respects and put those words on the record as well.

I was very pleased today to launch in Brisbane the Young Australian of the Year Awards 2002. I was launching them on behalf of the federal Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Ian Macdonald. It was a wonderful day in the sunshine at Newstead House, overlooking the Brisbane River. The reason that these awards have been set up is so that every day young people in rural areas and communities, as well as in city communities, can contribute to the future of those communities. Avenues like the Young Australian of the Year Awards give the nation the opportunity to applaud the significant contribution that young people make to our country's future. The launch today was really calling for nominations in Queensland and I was very happy to be there and to launch these very important awards. There are seven award categories and they cover areas such as arts, sport, community service, environment, career achievements in science, technology and regional initiatives. It is very important that we recognise our youth and we have had a number of incredible winners to date, including people like Poppy King, Rebecca Chalmers, Nova Peris, Tan Lee, Brian Gazela and Ian Thorpe. The Young Australian of the Year for 2001 is medical student James Fitzpatrick. He was honoured for the great work that he does, particularly in indigenous communities in the area of health.

These awards are very important. They acknowledge the hard work, excellence and dedication of our country's young achievers. The awards also mean that communities have a chance to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions in a wide range of fields important to the balanced growth of communities and the nation. The calibre of the award recipients in previous years has always been a splendid one, and young people aim high for their own personal development and also for the communities that they represent. It is their energy and creativity that ultimately will determine the future of communities throughout Australia and it is their efforts that have been significantly achieving and improving the quality of life of our regional communities—and they benefit us all here and now.

So the federal government has been very proud to be the sponsor of these awards, particularly the regional initiative and career achievement award categories. It is a golden opportunity to facilitate great things for our communities, our regions and our youth. The government has also been involved in initiatives that encourage our young people and recognise their very important contribution. For example, last week the National Youth Media Awards were announced by Dr David Kemp, the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs. These awards were initiated by the Howard government and they have attracted an increased number of entries. So too does the government place great store in the discussions and the outcomes of the National Youth Roundtable. These roundtables include young people from a range of backgrounds and experiences and from all states and territories, and they bring them together so that they can present a wide range of views and ideas to share with the federal government.

The federal government has also gotten very heavily involved with the very successful ABC Heywire program, which gives regional young Australians opportunities for their views to be aired on radio. The existence of programs and initiatives such as the Young Australian of the Year Awards and many of the others across the country is proof positive, if we need it, of the intense interest and commitment of so many of our young people. The government wants to make sure that the future Australia is a place in which all young Australians want to contribute and to help make a better place. That is why the government has worked in partnership with communities, industry, the private sector and all spheres of government to ensure that Australian communities remain strong and resilient in the face of the international economic environment and its subsequent impacts.

I would like to acknowledge the sponsors this year all by name: the Coffee Club; McDonald's, which is sponsoring the sports award; the KCL Group, which is sponsoring the science and technology award; and a number of other sponsors such as Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank and the Hilton. I would like to pay tribute to the sponsors. I was very pleased to play a part in the official launch today of the Young Australian of the Year Awards.