Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (21:55): Last month I announced the winners of the Chifley Young Leaders Awards at a ceremony in Mount Druitt. I initiated these awards last year to recognise the positive contribution young people made to the local community over that year. I hope the Chifley Young Leaders Awards encourage young people to start thinking about the issues that matter to them—not just within school but also outside the classroom and in the broader community. Education was a big theme among our entrants this year, focusing on the value of education in cultivating learning and paving the way for future opportunities. I would like to congratulate the joint winners of this year’s award, Hanan Aziz and Pascal Moussa.
Hanan, 17, from Mount Druitt, had an entry which explored domestic violence from the perspective of it being a human rights issue. The judges were particularly impressed with the passion put into Hanan’s entry, which opened with an expressive poem and delved into the effects of domestic violence on men and women alike. Pascal Moussa, 17, from Whalan, explored community pride and the media—critically thinking about how often the negative perception about an area is attributed to a postcode and what can be done to celebrate diversity as a community.
Eighteen-year-old Blake Fry from Hassall Grove, who last year completed year 12, was awarded second prize. Blake’s entry explored how an education revolution could be built through an interactive curriculum where students could step into a teacher’s shoes for a day through peer-led programs. His practical ideas statement also included providing smaller classes and more options for school tutoring as a form of educational enrichment. I would like to thank the judges, Majidi Warda from Blacktown Council and Cassie Scerri, a youth worker at the Ted Noffs Foundation, Mount Druitt, who had the unenviable job of sifting through all the entries and choosing the winners.
Another initiative I have been proud to launch has sought to recognise the efforts of women in our community who have looked to improve the welfare and prospects of others in neighbourhoods across Chifley. I was delighted that Cassie Scerri was awarded the Chifley Young Woman of the Year for her work with the Ted Noffs Foundation implementing music, dance and art workshops for disadvantaged boys and girls. Leading Senior Constable Cerise Britton from the Mount Druitt Police and Tarsa Linsdell from Housing NSW were jointly awarded the Chifley Woman of the Year for 2012.
The main award is the Coral McLean Award, which I named in honour of a tireless community worker for Chifley who last year lost her battle with cancer. Blacktown resident Bernadette Agyepong received a highly commended award for her work advocating on behalf of women refugees at SydWest Multicultural Services. The winner of the Coral McLean Award was Rita Wright. She received this award for her work mentoring Indigenous children and their families at the Tregear Presbyterian Preschool, along with all of the support that she has given to Anglicare. It was most appropriate that Aunty Rita won the inaugural Coral McLean Award, as she is someone who has benefited from the support and friendship that Coral McLean, who donated 100,000 hours of her own time to the local community, gave so many people in our area.
One of Coral McLean’s lasting legacies is the Mt Druitt and District Reconciliation Group, which she helped to establish more than 15 years ago. Last Saturday I had the great honour to walk with the Mt Druitt and District Reconciliation Group at the annual Mount Druitt Reconciliation Walk. The annual walk and festival, now in its 15th year, had a number of stalls that included groups from the Mount Druitt Learning Ground and TAFE. It encompassed painting workshops, local performers, speakers and family entertainment. It is a highlight of the Mount Druitt calendar, and I want to congratulate all the volunteers who made the day possible along with the Mount Druitt Reconciliation Group.
Many local cultural celebrations like the Reconciliation Walk bring the community together. The Pacific Islander Multicultural Day held a few months ago in March was organised by the Australian Samoan Group Inc., and was a fantastic day of food, arts, crafts and music. I also had the pleasure of attending the Pacific Islands Mount Druitt Action Network—PIMDAN—AGM at Mount Druitt, attended by the Samoan High Commissioner from Canberra, Hon. Lemalu Tate Simi. Many of the PIMDAN members also took part in the Chifley Pacific Islander community roundtable which I hosted with my colleague the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, the member for Corio, Richard Marles. The roundtable was a great forum to discuss ideas and feedback from a number of local community groups, with representatives from Chifley College Bidwill, the Plumpton Tongan Association, the Samoan Women’s Association, Peteli Tongan Uniting Church, Blacktown Samoan Methodist Church and many others. It was a great event, and I thank them for their participation.