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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1676

Ms ROWLAND (9:35 PM) —I rise to, firstly, highlight the pivotal role that sport plays in my community and its contribution to social inclusion. One of the great examples of the power of sport to contribute to social inclusion is the work of the Blacktown Police-Citizens Youth Club. The Blacktown PCYC targets children at risk and offers them opportunities in sport which would not otherwise be open to them. The PCYC has a fine reputation for teaching these children, through sport, the values of team participation and leadership whilst also fostering a community spirit.

Those who benefit from the work of the Blacktown PCYC come from a range of upbringings. Many come from unstable homes with issues surrounding drug and alcohol abuse. The PCYC has a long history and solid reputation in the Blacktown community. It keeps kids off the streets through participation in sport and aims to help children who are victims of circumstances, empowering them to choose sport as a productive activity. The PCYC in Blacktown prevents crime affecting children and in turn diverts young people from committing crimes such as graffiti and vandalism.

Due to the hard work of individuals within the PCYC and those who support it, such as Superintendent Mark Wright of the Blacktown Local Area Command, the PCYC has taken the lead in fostering new Australian citizens and including them constructively in our society. The Blacktown PCYC caters for a diverse range of ethnicities. When my electorate of Greenway began to see many new settlers from Africa a few years ago, the PCYC was so important in including these new citizens, particularly children, in society through participation in a variety of sporting activities.

I also take this opportunity to congratulate the many winners at the individual, team, coaching and administrator levels of the 2010 season Blacktown City sports awards who were honoured at the presentation evening on Saturday at Blacktown RSL club. Along with our special guest for the evening, champion athlete Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, all who were present marvelled at the depth and diversity of the local sporting achievements of Blacktown City. We are indeed the home of the future sporting champions of Australia.

I also rise this evening to pay tribute to a great woman, known to many as the ‘Mother of Mount Druitt’: Coral McLean. Coral, whose body finally succumbed to cancer, will be buried tomorrow by another great Mount Druitt figure, Father Paul Hanna. Coral McLean was a remarkable community leader and a great Australian woman. She devoted her life to the service of people whom Father Paul so accurately describes as the wounded in our society. For over 20 years she tirelessly worked and advocated for displaced young, Indigenous and often, quite frankly, hopeless people in the Mount Druitt area.

As a director of the Holy Family Education Centre in Mount Druitt, she ran literacy and education courses that became a safety net for thousands of people, young and mature alike. Father Paul conservatively estimates that Coral gave over 100,000 hours of community service in her activities, which ranged from organising the reconciliation committee’s first reconciliation walk in Mount Druitt, which is in fact home to the largest urban Indigenous population in Australia, to establishing the Mount Druitt Community Legal Centre to provide access to justice to those who would otherwise be shut out.

So many deeds of Coral McLean will go unnoticed; however, I believe they need to be recognised. She had courage and compassion that is rarely seen. One of her most pertinent roles was as a comforter to those in times of need. She literally walked hundreds of local families through the funerals of their loved ones. In her final funeral tomorrow, her own, Coral will be remembered as someone who passionately believed in people and the liberating role of education. I also speak for the member for Chifley, who is with me in the chamber this evening, when I give thanks on behalf of our communities for the precious gift that Coral McLean was to the people of Mount Druitt.