Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (11:00): I am very grateful to have a chance to speak on a special program that I participated in recently. A few weeks ago, under the Learn Earn Legend! program, about 100 Indigenous students from all over Australia had an opportunity to spend a week in Canberra undertaking work experience in parliament and in other jobs related to government. Under the program, the students had an induction to the workplace and they got to see what staff work on and the practical aspects of working here, with the staff discussing with the students their understanding of the political system and any aspirations that they might have. They accompanied me and people from my office to observe scheduled events for parliamentarians. You could also organise a lunch. In my case, we had a great afternoon tea. They observed a range of work activities and also talked within the office about what is involved in the role.
Learn Earn Legend! is clearly a great program. It encourages and supports young Indigenous Australians to stay at school and to get employment. The theme of the program is to be a legend for themselves, their families and their communities. I had the great pleasure of having in my office a year 11 student from Nyngan High School, from Nyngan in New South Wales—Demi Jeffery, from the Wongaibon tribe. She said:
The program is great and allows me along with other students to experience life as a parliamentarian and it’s a fantastic way to meet new people and make new friends.
I believe it was a fantastic experience for the young Indigenous students, encouraging them to continue in school and strive for the job that they dream about. Most of the students were excited about the well-known ambassadors: NRL Titans star Scott Prince and tennis legend Evonne Goolagong. Not only are they both proud Aboriginal people but they are also role models for the students. Even though they were only with the students for a short time, the experience impacted on the students and drummed into them that they should always follow their dreams.
Demi undertook a range of tasks such as writing speeches and touring Parliament House. She got to sit through question time and was lucky enough to go on the floor of the Senate. Demi informed us that the highlight of her time with us was the tour of Parliament House, when she was able to go onto the Senate floor. I hope that this has given Demi one of the most rewarding life experiences that she has had, being able to work at Parliament House. It was certainly a terrific experience for me to host someone who has such a great deal to offer and a lot of dreams that she wants to follow, particularly recognising the importance of education in her life. I reckon she gained a great understanding of life in parliament and, as I said, it was a pleasure to host someone as mature, thoughtful and engaging as Demi. I hope to see this program continue to run and help close the gap for Aboriginal people.