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Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Page: 4795

Mr DICK (Oxley) (19:50): I rise tonight to inform the parliament of Australia of the sad passing of Mrs Evelyn Wolfe, who passed away aged 94 on 27 May after a battle with cancer. Evie, as she was effectively known, was not only a Labor true believer in every sense of the word but also a dedicated and hardworking volunteer over many decades in our local community. Evie was born on 3 December 1923 and was a proud mum to her daughter, Lorraine, whom I spoke to this afternoon, and her loving grandkids, Hayden and Brooke, whom she always referred to as Brookie. This Friday I will join members of her family and community leaders at St Mark's Catholic Parish to honour her life. Evie was a frequent visitor every Monday morning at the musical morning tea at Elizabeth Bruce Playground Park in Inala, and was also a dedicated member of the St Mark's Catholic Church congregation. You'd often find Evie at St Mark's playing bingo every Friday, looking after her friends, including her best friend Muriel. She was a key driver in the Inala Pensioners Club and organised their social buses and trips for years, including people every step of the way. Evie was a tireless advocate for social justice, and a fighter for her community for decades through the Carole Park and Inala districts. In her later years her group of close friends Ethel Murray, Glenda McCoy and Margaret Stone became known as the 'Inala Golden Girls'. Evie featured on the front page of the QueenslandLabor Times, autumn edition, earlier this year on election night with Anastacia Palaszczuk, and was recently bestowed life membership of the party just a short few weeks ago by myself and the premier. Even though Evie's health was declining, she attended the Oxley branch awards last year, and was a stalwart, volunteering on a polling booth for my election in 2016. Evie, we will miss your smile, we will miss your laugh, but we will never forget the profound impact you had on many lives in our community. God bless you, Evie. May you rest in peace.

I'd like to turn my attention to news in the Oxley local community and in particular to the RSL's Forest Lake Sub Branch and their Paws for Hope and Understanding program, which is led by the sub-branch president, Mr Bob Richards, and the program patron, Australian Olympic champion Dawn Fraser AO, MBE. This innovative initiative, one of the first of its kind in the world, and an Australian first, provides a trained assistance or service dog for both young and older ex-Defence and Defence Force personnel as an aid to help members transition from high stress and combat environments to general society. The Paws for Hope and Understanding program is currently in its infant stages, and I'm delighted to inform the House that I briefed the Veterans' Affairs minister's office this afternoon. It has shown tremendous potential for assisting former Defence personnel to transition into civilian life and for treating those who suffer from PTSD.

It follows the lead of proven successful programs in the US and Canada, and is pioneering the way veterans in my community access support. The Forest Lake program uses an assortment of dogs, including the white Swiss shepherd; labrador; Australian, German and Belgian shepherds; and border collies. I've seen firsthand the difference these dogs are making to the lives of veterans, and I ask the government to take a closer look at this program, and work with the sub-branch to expand its scope and operations. With up to 20 per cent of veterans reported to suffer from PTSD, we must continue to canvass all programs such as this to treat the growing epidemic. Of those veterans who suffer from PTSD, less than 40 per cent seek help, with doctors often prescribing costly medications for treatment.

There is another way, and the Paws for Hope and Understanding program is it. With support shown by RSPCA Queensland, Dogs Queensland and the RAAF Dog Handlers Association, this program has the potential to change thousands of lives. I acknowledge the Forest Lake Sub Branch president, Bob Richards, and his Paws for Hope and Understanding team—in particular, Steve, Sharron and Hannah—for their dedication to this cause. They have shown 100 per cent commitment to the program and improving the lives of veterans, which I highly commend.

It was only a month ago, on Anzac Day, that I was privileged to visit Dogs Queensland for the unveiling of the war animals memorial and for the accompanying service. It was clear to see the partnership and commitment that the sub-branch and Dogs Queensland have made to this program, which will ensure its long-term success well into the future. I look forward to working with the RSL's Forest Lake Sub Branch to expand the program and to help even more veterans transition into civilian life.