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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1694

Mr MITCHELL (10:40 AM) —I look forward to a Labor member opening those schools that the member for Wannon obviously does not want. Over the weekend I joined many locals and religious leaders at the Peaceful Land of Joy Meditation Centre in Yuroke to celebrate the Tibetan New Year. The centre is home to the Tibetan Buddhist Society and it is evident that the name of the centre is truly epitomised in the beautiful lush gardens and peaceful serenity you feel when you walk in. The positive energy stems not only from the magnificence of the place but also from the many volunteers who are so dedicated and committed to its maintenance and beauty, nature and peace.

Venerable Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden, who established the society, spoke about how he came to Australia as a refugee with nothing but $10 in his pocket—and look at what he has achieved and what the society continues to give to others. This year’s theme for the Tibetan New Year Festival, ‘Change your mind, change the world’, is truly inspirational to people of all walks of life, religions and races. We must always look within ourselves, because the strength, determination and courage is in all of us to make any sort of change. This is true in whatever you do. The affirmation that real change starts with each and every one of us is a theme we must give not only for this new year but for every year. What we give to the world is what it gives back to us and if we change our mindset and attitudes in return then we will get a more harmonised and tolerant society. It was great to listen to Father Michael Mifsud speak about how despite our religious differences we are the same and we all value the same things.

As we are all aware, my electorate of McEwen was devastated by the Black Saturday bushfires on 7 February 2009. The Tibetan society raised over $40,000 for the victims of the Black Saturday bushfires. I thank their community for that on behalf of my community. Although there is still much work to be done, it was contributions like this that helped my community get back onto its feet. Similarly, when our northern neighbours in Queensland were recently hit with unprecedented floods and cyclones, the Venerable Geshe Loden launched a fundraising appeal and the society has so far helped to raise over $20,000 for the people of Queensland. Our country is truly a place of opportunity and generosity.

I was also pleased to attend the Rotary Club of Kinglake Ranges charter dinner, at the lovely Toolangi Tavern, and present an Australian flag. The charter dinner was sponsored by the Eltham Rotary Club. I congratulate the President of the Rotary club, Brad Quilliam, on his role and I have no doubt that the Kinglake Ranges Rotary Club will do a great job. Brad spoke very passionately about the need for service clubs and how they can be there, on hand, to help rebuild communities that are going through very tough times. Having spoken to many locals at the dinner, I know they are very excited about the future of the Rotary club as part of the 9790 region. There are clubs in that region all the way from Milawa to Ivanhoe and from Sunbury to Diamond Creek. Twenty-nine community members have volunteered to be part of the Rotary club, including Secretary Jenny Beales, Assistant Secretary Judi Wynn, Treasurer John Marshall, Denise Doerner, Joe Hollyoak, Jacky Robinson and Fred Swainston, and Sergeant-at-Arms John Leadbeater keeps them all under control. (Time expired).