As the year draws to a close, I want to draw
to the attention of the House some of the highlights I’ve experienced this year and
to recognise some of the remarkable people and organisations that I am fortunate enough
to represent in this place. Throughout the year, it’s been fantastic to meet with and
visit many groups and organisations, including, but not limited to, Caves Beach and Redhead
surf lifesaving clubs; Belmont Neighbourhood Centre; Charlestown Junior Cricket Club; Valhalla
Men’s Shed; Cardiff District Men’s Shed; Redhead Men’s Shed; Kahibah Sports Club; Swansea Meals
on Wheels; Nova for Women and Children homelessness and domestic violence service; Sing Australia,
Belmont; Lake Macquarie PCYC at Windale; Camp Breakaway; Lakes United rugby club; Charlestown
Scout Group and Belmont Baptist Church. They’re just some of the countless volunteer and community
groups that make me feel so humbled to represent the people of Shortland.
I was very pleased to again host the ‘Shortland morning teal’ to raise funds for ovarian cancer
research, and I thank our inspirational local ABC journalist, Jill Emberson, for sharing
her personal story and her strong advocacy on this issue throughout the year, including
speaking at Parliament House. I also thank Associate Professor Nikola Bowden for her
amazing research work and Carolyn Bear for her ongoing commitment to fundraising for
this important cause. I’m pleased to continue the tradition begun by the former member for
Shortland Jill Hall in holding this event. It’s been fantastic to have engagement once
again with the various RSL sub-branches throughout Shortland, and I pay tribute to every single
sub-branch for their care of and commitment to our veterans and their dedication in commemorating
Australia’s proud military history. Thanks to Lyle Dalton and the Boolaroo-Speers Point
sub-branch and to Bill Duffy and the Swansea sub-branch for hosting me on Anzac Day, and
to Joe Hayes and the Belmont sub-branch for inviting me to their service on Remembrance
Day. One of the highlights of my job is engaging
with schools in Shortland, both locally and when they visit Canberra. It’s always a great
opportunity to meet years 5 and 6 students at parliament—they always have interesting,
and sometimes difficult, questions for me. During STEM Week, I visited Charlestown East
Public School, where it was great to hear Adrian Dawson, an engineer from CSIRO, talk
with the students about his work. From the questions the students had for Adrian and
for me, I’m confident there will be talented scientists, mathematicians and engineers from
this cohort at Charlestown East. I also want to acknowledge the 50th birthday
of Charlestown Meals on Wheels. This is such an important organisation that really does
play a vital role in providing a basic but fundamentally important service to people
in their homes. I also acknowledge Charlestown Rotary for their contribution to this service.
Thank you to all the Meals on Wheels groups in Shortland.
The Redhead Men’s Shed has built a magnificent miners memorial, and I was privileged to speak
at the official opening. The prosperity of the Hunter region is built on the sacrifices
of generations of miners, and it’s important that we have this memorial to commemorate
that sacrifice. Recently, I attended the Reclaim the Night
march at Warners Bay with member for Charlestown, Jodie Harrison; the member for Swansea, Yasmin
Catley; and the Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Kay Fraser. I thank the Lake Macquarie Domestic
Violence Committee for organising this important event, which focuses our attention on the
fact that we have such a long way to go in addressing this scourge on our society.
Another recent visit was to the Lake Macquarie PCYC at Windale. I also pay tribute to the
contribution they make. Windale is a special place and has some real challenges, and it’s
great to have such a positive organisation and facility in Windale. I thank Martin Eddy
and his team for what they do for this community and the broader region.
Finally, I’d like to draw to the attention of the House an event that occurred in my
region today, a Newcastle community forum held by the Royal Commission into Aged Care
Quality and Safety. Earlier this year I wrote to the commissioners asking them to come to
the Hunter, and I’m very pleased this came about. I thank the commissioners for their
interest. A community forum in Newcastle was important for my constituents and those in
our region to provide feedback directly to Commissioner Lynelle Briggs about their experiences
of the residential aged-care system and home care packages. The system is broken, and Scott
Morrison’s $537 million commitment this week is a drop in the ocean compared to what is
needed. I want to thank my constituent Deanne Morris and others who attended the forum.
Deanne has been a tireless advocate for reform to the aged-care system, given her mother’s
horrific experience in residential care. It’s voices like Deanne’s that are important for
the commissioners, and for Scott Morrison, to hear.
In the coming weeks I’ll be announcing the winner of the Shortland Christmas card competition
for a Christmas card designed by a local student reflecting the great theme of Christmas with
pets in the Lake Macquarie and Central Coast area. I look forward to announcing the winner. Finally, I wish all my constituents a merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year, and thank them for their ongoing support.