Feb 15, 2017

2017 Holt Australia Day Awards Speech – 15 February 2017

I rise this evening to talk about a group of exceptional people that I had the privilege of honouring on Australia Day as part of the 13th Annual Holt Australia Day Awards. Twenty-eight outstanding individuals and seven local organisations were collectively commended for their contribution to our community at the Day of Nations celebration in Hampton Park. This great event was organised by Erica Maliki and Vanassa Gerdes from the Hampton Park Networking Group and supported by the City of Casey. We were also commemorating the 100th anniversary of Hampton Park on this day, so it was a very special day.

Our area does not get a lot of positive publicity. One of the reasons I was so insistent on conducting these Australia Day awards—which have been tremendously well supported by the City of Casey and now the Hampton Park Networking Group—was to emphasis the amazing contributions made by so many people and so many organisations in my area that make our community a better place. And you do not read about them. They are not people who seek publicity in this age of instant celebrity, of instant fame through Instagram, Facebook, Google and Twitter.

These are not the sorts of people who try to seek that recognition. These are the people who make the community work, people like Len from the Narre Warren Bowls Club. Len is, effectively, a blind bowler but he contributes enormously around the bowls club. He had to almost be physically dragged to this event to be publicly honoured, and that says a lot about the quality of the spirit of the people of my area.

It is a microcosm of what is great about our community—the Australian community. Selflessly dedicating their lives to others without seeking recognition for it is an essential element of the Australian character. It is quintessentially Australian, and that is why I like to celebrate it on Australia Day. It is also why it gets such enormous support in my area. We had hundreds and hundreds of people there. It would have been an event that you would have enjoyed, Mr Speaker, and it is an event that has been increasingly well supported. The community, in an Australian way, collectively takes pride in the achievements of these people.

I would like to read the names into the parliamentary record of those who were honoured by the Holt Australia Day Awards. There were Abdul Wahid, the African Australia Women’s Group, Amarjit Singh, Amber Summerfield, Cranbourne Library, Daya Wijewardana, Denver De Rozario, Destanee Aiava, the Venerable Digamadulle Wimalananda, the Doveton Salvation Army Thrift Shop, the Endeavour United Soccer Club, Frank Lamattina, the Islander’s Creole Club, Jan Gilchrist, Jenny Colvin, Jason Gerdes, Jennie Toyne, Jodie Ann Bedford, Leonard O’Brien, Lisa Neindorf, Long Chen, the Lyndhurst Football Netball Club, Lynne Bradley, Mala Pethiyagoda, Mat Harry, Melinda Perry, Paula Correia, Peter Aguto, Revati Ilanko, Rex Ashenden, Sally McCracken, the Serbian Cultural Club, Tania Sacco and Tim Allan. And there was a posthumous award for Leeanne Browning. It was presented to her brother and her sister.

Those people show the diversity of our community and the diversity of contributions made to our community. I spoke about Len from the Narre Warren Bowls Club. Amongst the award recipients was the Cranbourne library, which worked in partnership with the Casey Cardinia Library Corporation. They launched what is called a ‘forgiving tree’ that delivered much-needed resources for local charities in the lead-up to Christmas. In its first year ever, the initiative of the library, which was to forgive book fines and other fees in exchange for a donation to the library’s forgiving tree, raised more than $15,000 for local charities. Cranbourne Library partnered with the Cranbourne Information and Support Service to pass on these donations to the less fortunate so they could enjoy a decent Christmas. There it is—just one single initiative like that.

Destanee Aiava, who I think we will see lighting up our TV screens in tennis, is a 12-year-old who became an international star by winning the Longines Future Tennis Aces Tournament at Roland Garros in Paris. She, and the 35 other recipients, are examples of the significant difference you can make when you contribute to the community. I was honoured to honour them on Australia Day. They signify the best of what it is to be an Australian and the best in terms of what people do for our community.


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