Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (22:16): Tonight I am delighted to acknowledge in this place the kids of the Rooty Hill RSL Youth Swimming Club and their impressive accomplishments recently at the New South Wales RSL State Youth Championships in Ulladulla, New South Wales. The Rooty Hill RSL Youth Club has been part of our community for 45 years and works hard to provide our youth sporting groups with the opportunity to compete.
These local organisations and sporting groups help bring together our communities and teach our kids the important life skills of teamwork, dedication and the value of persistence. This year, the Rooty Hill RSL Youth Swimming Club was able to send a total of 22 swimmers, competing in 26 events, to the New South Wales RSL State Youth Championships. They came away with 28 places, including eight gold medals and eight silver medals. It is an outstanding reward for their hard work and perseverance.
Many of these kids competed in multiple events over the course of the day and were watched by over 2,000 competitors and spectators. I want to personally congratulate Stephanie Batchelor, Tully Fletcher, Samuel Fletcher, Elizabeth Fletcher, Nicole Portelli, Monique Portelli, Alana Kerri Broomham, Taylah Lee, Caitlin Thick, Sharray Brown, Jeremy D’Souza, Brendan D’Souza, Emma Harvey, Justin Munzer and Georgia Lee for tremendous performances. These swimmers put in countless hours practising and training, but I would also like to congratulate and commend their parents and coaches for the continuous support and dedication they show these kids each and every day.
It is also worth paying special tribute to President Anthony Portelli and all the members of the club executive for their leadership and commitment to this special organisation. I am very proud of these kids who make up the Rooty Hill RSL Youth Swimming Club and I am happy we were able to help support them in their efforts to attend titles. Congratulations on a job well done.
While on the subject of young people excelling and doing our community proud, I want to make mention of another group of athletes deserving of special mention in this place. Last month, at the invitation of the Australian Institute of Sport and of Basketball Australia, I had the great pleasure of attending the AIS women’s basketball 2011 graduation ceremony. The work of the AIS in developing fantastic basketballers is recognised internationally. The AIS takes the view that its program transforms promising junior players into mature senior athletes with the mental, physical and tactical skills needed to perform with distinction—and humility—on the world stage. The program also promotes their academic progress, employment opportunities, welfare and personal growth.
For years, AIS women’s basketball teams have been internationally competitive, securing multiple titles worldwide. For example, the Australian women’s youth division, the Gems, finished in the top four at the 2011 FIBA Under 19 World Championships. The graduating athletes are Rebecca Cole, guard, from Mt Waverley, Victoria; Rebecca Allen, guard/forward, from Wangaratta, Victoria; Madeleine Garrick, another guard/forward, from Shepparton, Victoria; Sarah Blicavs, guard/forward, from Sunbury, Victoria; Olivia Thompson, forward, from Balaklava, South Australia; Rosie Fadljevic, forward, from Melbourne, Victoria; Alex Bunton, centre, originally from the UK and now from the ACT; and Tessa Lavey, guard, from Swan Hill, Victoria. I will be posting more details about these talented players on my website, with this speech.
The Australian government contributes close to $6 million in annual funding to support the development of the sport from the grassroots to the elite level. This includes an extra $1 million per year in high-performance funding. It is money well invested in developing the potential of young talent. The demands and pressures placed on these young players performing at this level cannot be underestimated. They are shining examples of what can be achieved and they follow in the footsteps of those who have stood out in years past: players such as Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor. A lot of us look forward to seeing the 2011graduates progress and make our country proud. They do so under the care, guidance and occasional tough love of head coach Phil Brown and assistant coach Kristy Flores. It is important to recognise that these players get there because of the sacrifice and support they receive, particularly from their family. I think that special ingredient also needs to receive special attention tonight. Congratulations to all of them.