Mr Deputy Speaker

I have reflected in this parliament before on the extraordinary community I have the honour to represent. Our beautiful harbour-side location has shaped the character of our area, but it is the people who have made it such a strong and vibrant community.

Recently, I had the opportunity to acknowledge some of these incredible people at the North Sydney Community Awards, which we organise each year to celebrate the contribution of local volunteers. The awards brought together an outstanding collection of individuals and organisations who selflessly give of their time to enrich other people’s lives and make our area a better place.

It was heartening to see the sheer volume of nominations and to know that compassion and giving back are notions that are alive and well in the North Sydney community.

I want to acknowledge some of the people who received an award. Sadly, time does not permit me to list all of the recipients but each was equally deserving.

However, I can mention a few to illustrate the depth of volunteerism in our community. For example, Ada Belcher has volunteered at the Crows Nest St Vincent de Paul shop since 1968. Ada has dedicated almost 50 years of her life to managing the store and all of the welfare requests who come through the door, providing food, clothes and blankets to disadvantaged people in the community.

Francesca Timar, the North Sydney Young Person of the Year, was nominated for her community work through Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, one of my great local schools. Francesca has encouraged active involvement and engagement with Aboriginal issues by, for example, participating in a cultural immersion program and helping to paint a mural at a local childcare centre. Francesca has continued her work with the group despite finishing school last year.

Organisations such as Sydney Community Services, our Community Group of the Year, provides such incredible support to senior residents and those with a disability, particularly in the Lane Cove and Hunters Hill areas. I also particularly want to mention Gig Buddies, which works across New South Wales but has its home in my electorate, in Chatswood. It provides an incredible service by matching people with a disability to those with similar musical or other interests to provide them with experiences they otherwise might not have had.

The Community Awards are also a time for us to acknowledge outstanding sporting achievements. Mina Ferguson ranks in the top 50 in the world for sailing, and Tully White is the open women’s national longboard surfing champion, having already been the junior national champion for two years in a row.

I was also pleased we could honour some of the volunteers at the Crows Nest Centre: Kerry Hammond, Elizabeth Kirkby, John Seala and Bernadette Dattatreyan. There are people who share their love of sport by working with local teams, like Paul Tout from the North Shore Rowing Club and Graeme Priddy from the Lane Cove Rugby Union Football Club. Even community radio is delivered to us predominantly by volunteers such as Chris Blower, Maureen Meers, Jacqui Axford and Susan Ping Kee, who all donate their time to Fine Music 102.5 FM, the pioneer of community radio in Australia.

I thank all nominees across the categories for their valuable contribution to our community. We are a better place because of your work.

[ENDS]