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Thursday, 20 September 2001
Page: 31178

Ms LIVERMORE (9:40 AM) —Amidst all the sadness in the world at present, I would like to share a good news story from my electorate. A lot of talented kids go unrecognised in our country because they live in remote areas and miss out on the opportunities that city kids often have on their doorsteps. I am pleased to say that for 24 schoolchildren from Longreach this is not the case. In February this year, three competition aerobic teams were formed, and the 24 girls started their training sessions for the Queensland School Aerobics Championships in Brisbane in July. The teams were coached by 19-year-old Jillian Wilkie who was a past competitor but has no formal aerobic or choreography qualifications.

In between their three training sessions a week, the girls fundraised $25,000 to help them travel to Brisbane for the competition. The competition in Brisbane was tough, but the Longreach girls were crowd favourites for their talent and personality. Delighting the crowds with their vibrant faces and energetic routines, the Chantoozies and Bedazzled teams both won gold medals, and the Bananaramas won a silver medal. The teams were up against teams from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

All three teams qualified for the Australian championships in Geelong in August. The whole town of Longreach, as it always does, got behind the girls. One of the fundraising highlights was the sports gala evening at the Longreach Civic Centre, where the crowd was entertained by the dads performing an aerobics demonstration in their boxer shorts and by the Longreach fire brigade doing a `full monty' routine down to their boxers. That evening raised $8,000 and, in all, the town rallied to provide $35,000 towards the trip to Geelong. Once again the girls did us proud. The Bananaramas were placed sixth out of nine teams, the Bedazzled girls were placed fifth out of 13 teams, and the Chantoozies were named the Australian champions for their section of the competition.

The girls are all aged between eight and 16, and Jillian Wilkie, who works at the Longreach Shire Council, trained all three teams three times a week. This was an amazing effort for country kids who, while competing at the national level, were up against teams who had fully qualified coaches and choreographers and who, in most cases, had been competing for over 10 years. We are very proud of the girls. And Longreach is very proud of its aerobics girls, as evidenced by the sponsorship that came from most business houses in Longreach, QantasLink and the Primary Industries Bank of Australia.

The Bananarama team included Jessica Cooper, Lauren Williams, Brigitte Grofski, Rose Bielenberg, Calie McLachlan, Kirbie Andrews, Courtney Davies, Courtney Luck, Emily Swalling and Lorrae Johnston. The Chantoozies included Sophie Wilkinson, Aimee Ballard, Anna McPherson, Ashleigh Helder, Jessica Barbeler, Jessie McPhee, Becky Harris, Carly Daniels, Jady Kremar. The Bedazzled team included Monique Wilkie, Madonna Smith, Renee McConachy, Rebecca Fickling and Karla Fickling. I congratulate the girls and Jillian Wilkie. They are a fantastic asset to the town of Longreach. I also congratulate the families and businesses of Longreach who sent our girls off to be the best in Australia—good on you.