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Monday, 15 November 2010
Page: 2308

Mr CHRISTENSEN (9:50 PM) —I rise tonight in the House of Representatives to recognise an outstanding group of students from North Mackay State High School in my electorate of Dawson. The students took part in the school’s Lest We Forget project 2010 Anzac Commemorative Tour. I recently had the pleasure of attending the presentation evening that recognised their achievements.

The work the students, staff and parents have undertaken in this project to remember the sacrifice of servicemen and servicewomen from Mackay and the district is commendable. The North Mackay High School’s Lest We Forget project is an Australian wartime commemorative project that first began in 1998. The project came to prominence throughout the country when the first overseas tour in 1999 was the subject of ABC TV’s Australian Story program. The school’s Lest We Forget project involves students researching service records and speaking to family members of fallen servicemen and women from the Mackay district. The Anzac 2010 Commemorative Tour gave students the opportunity to visit the graves of the fallen soldiers that they had researched. It also allowed the students to lay a wreath, recite the ode and observe a minute’s silence alongside the graves of the fallen.

This is a very emotional time for many of the students because they have spent so much time researching the lives of the young fallen soldiers. As with many Australia towns and cities, some of Mackay’s streets bear the names of those fallen soldiers from the district. I would like to make mention of local Mackay historian Mrs Bernice Wright, who assisted the school students in researching the history of the soldiers and street names. I understand that students will provide residents of the streets with a brief history of the soldier that their street is named after. This will be a resource for local historians for many years to come.

The students visited Anzac Cove, Polygon Wood and Lone Pine in Gallipoli. They also toured the Burma railway, Hellfire Pass, Changi prison, the Australian war memorial in Belgium, the Somme, Villers-Bretonneux and Ypres. A special moment for one student, Miss Milly Beere, was being invited to read the ode at a service at Menin Gate at Ypres, the memorial to those killed in Ypres Salient in World War I and whose graves are unknown.

The coordinator of the Lest We Forget project at Mackay North State High School is senior history teacher Mr Mike Goodwin, who over the last decade has taken more than 100 students on commemorative tours to the battlefields of World War I and World War II. I wish tonight to pay tribute to the dedication of Mr Goodwin and the efforts that fellow staff at Mackay North State High School have put into this very important project to give local students the opportunity to research and recognise almost 500 local Mackay fallen soldiers. Mr Goodwin and his team are doing a magnificent job in ensuring that the history of the brave men and women from the Mackay district who answered the call is forever remembered. I could tell from attending the presentation evening that the efforts of the teachers were appreciated by the students.

I wish to personally congratulate those students who took part in this year’s commemorative tour, namely Laura Atkinson, Alison Beanland, Milly Beere, Camille Botto, Alex Byrne, Sarah Carvolth, David Chetcuti, Celia Cox, Samantha Cushing, Lauren Germanotta, Peta Germanotta, Mark Gordon, Faith Gray, Karlee Harvey, Elise Lambert, Rebecca McCormack, Taylah McCarthy, Simon Patton, Genevieve Richards, Kira Ryan, Ellie Rickman, Kirstie Sauer, Ryan Saunders, Brianna Spandley, Alice Tagney, Jessica Trott, Kate Turner, Ryan Webb, Elly Whittaker and Niki Wiperi. I am sure that being a part of the Lest We Forget project will have enriched their lives and understanding of the sacrifices made by our fallen soldiers.

Taking part in the tour will have given the students an insight into Australia’s wartime service and Mackay’s local history that the reading of a history textbook could never do. I want to place on record my most sincere congratulations to the staff and parents of North Mackay State High School for the success of the Lest We Forget project. I wish the students every success in their endeavours in the future and the school every success in the organisation of future tours. The project is delivering a great history education to North Mackay High students and at the same time preserving Mackay’s local history. The motto of the Lest We Forget project is ‘Securing our future by respecting our past’. They certainly have done that. I congratulate the North Mackay State High students who have respected our past by taking part in the Anzac commemorative tour in 2010.