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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13950

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (10:16): I commenced on 24 October and completed on 21 November, the inaugural Bennelong 100 walk for Motor Neurone Disease. Along the way I stopped at 35 schools, 24 shopping villages, 11 aged care centres and three charities. Everywhere I went people were unfailingly generous and kind. One of many highlights of the walk was the time I spent at the schools across Bennelong. All were interested in the walk and the charity. Some schools showed off their world-class facilities; others took me on at table tennis the week before the Bennelong Cup schools competition. Many had programs or students they were especially proud of and I was lucky enough to see them all.

Epping Primary School was a particular standout. On hearing of the walk they immediately arranged a mufti day for the whole school and presented me with a cheque for hundreds of dollars when I walked through. Many other schools were similarly generous. Gladesville Public School hosted a Motor Neurone Disease Association stall on their grounds and raised a lot of money through selling their fundraising merchandise. Others, like Northcross Christian School and St Charles Catholic Primary School took donations through a fundraising tin kept at reception.

One other school that stood out was Rydalmere East Public School. I visited them on 16 November, when they had recently held their Remembrance Day ceremony. In addition to the usual memorial service, they had applied to the Department of Defence for an Anzac Centenary grant in order to put on a performance entitled Do Not Forget Australia. The show tells the story of a troop of diggers in World War I and the families they left behind. It gave the students a real picture of what their sacrifices meant, particularly as some of the soldiers who fought were just a couple of years older than the students are now.

The federal government provided the school nearly $3,000 to put on this show and, by all accounts, it was an incredible event. The school, appropriately, held the performance on 11 November, which added to the solemnity of the event in this 100 years since the Gallipoli landings. The area is steeped in military heritage as the school is situated above the A2E DHA housing site. This site is named after the first submarine to breach the Dardanelles and is built on the location of a former ammunitions store. Defence members and their families started moving into the site just last year; and in a lovely gesture to the local community the school put on a special performance of the show for the service people and their families. I commend the school for this gesture and the whole community for getting behind these young people.