I was in Parliament during the past week. The week ended with the awful news of the Paris terrorist attacks which has shocked us all. I was in Melbourne on Saturday night and saw the buildings lit up in solidarity with the French people at this time. Our thoughts are with all of those affected by these terrible events.
My capable staff represents me at some important local events and keep me updated when I am unable to attend. It was a wide-ranging list of events across a diverse range of interests we have throughout the 3200 square kilometres of this electorate.
My staff attended the following events:
- The “Female Genital Mutilation” (FGM) professional development session on Tuesday held at St Paul’s African House. This forum was organised by The Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District and GV Health. The panel consisted of an inspirational speaker, Ms Khadija Gbla who was brave enough to share her own story of FGM. You can read more by visiting her website: www.nofgmoz.com.
- On Wednesday, my staff attended the wreath laying event at the Shepparton Cenotaph in honour of Remembrance Day where Mr Peter Dealy OAM was the guest speaker. Mr Dealy is from Numurkah and is a Vietnam veteran. I attended the State Remembrance Day Service at the Shire of Remembrance in Melbourne.
- Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre and Primary Care Connect held a “Therapeutic Justice Program Launch” on Thursday at the Old Court House in Shepparton. This is an innovative and collaborative approach to help people with complex health and related legal issues to minimise their chance of re-offending. You can read more about this program here: http://gvclc.org.au/category/therapeutic-justice/
- On Friday, I attended the Lighthouse Project launch at the Italian Club to hear the results of the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project – 1000 Conversations, Youth Sector Mapping and Volunteer Program Review and our plans for collective action. It was good to hear the results of the work done to date and ideas for the future.
- After that, I was honoured to attend the 11th annual Ganbina awards night where I was asked to present awards to Indigenous graduates at all levels assisted by Sean Armistead, secretary of the Ganbina Board. It is great to see the success of these young people and how Ganbina has assisted them in remaining involved in their school activities.
- Over the weekend, my office attended the unveiling of a monument to commemorate where the Shepparton Synagogue was located from 1913-1966 on the corner of Doyles Road and Poplar Avenue. In 1913, eight Jewish immigrant families settled in Shepparton. Many of them contributed to the early fruit growing industry. After WWII, about 60 more Jewish families lived in the area. However, over time many families moved with most going to Melbourne. A few past residents of Shepparton have ensured that the memory of the Synagogue will remain there forever by organising this monument.
- We also attended the commemoration and wreath laying ceremony to honour the German and Australian War Dead at the German War Cemetery in Tatura. This cemetery has recently been listed in the Heritage Victoria Register. To learn more about the cemetery and internment camps, go here: http://www.taturamuseum.org.au/prisoner_of_war__internment_camps.html
During parliament, I had many meetings with cross-benchers and organisations.
- I met with the Department Of Health for a briefing on the GV Health Community Advisory Group. Our first meeting is at GV Health on Monday 16 November. Members of the group have received the agenda for that meeting as well as dates for subsequent meetings.
- I caught up with Simon Clarke who is the CEO of Westside Circus. They recently secured a $10,000 grant from the Community Safety Fund to deliver The Altitude Program in Shepparton. This is a pilot project that uses the experience of learning circus to engage and inspire the participants. You can read more here: https://westsidecircus.org.au/?page_id=7765
On Thursday, I used my members’ statement to advise the Parliament about the Water Summit held on 28 October in Tatura and organised by my office, Greater Shepparton City Council and Committee for Greater Shepparton. You can read my full statement here: http://hansard.parliament.vic.gov.au/isysquery/16e6e6a0-309a-4dc8-8a44-b43fe957c592/1/doc/
I also spoke on the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015. You can read the bill here: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/static/www.legislation.vic.gov.au-bills.html and you can read my speech here: http://hansard.parliament.vic.gov.au/isysquery/2bf96b25-15a9-4ede-a443-0a2a6c02088d/2/doc/. This bill seeks to establish a 150-metre "safe access zone" around clinics offering legal medical treatments including terminations to women.
My office dealt with a wide range of constituent issues during the week. Some were: grants for mobility scooters, grants for Defibrillators for those not for profits not recognised by Sport and Recreation Victoria, issues with Melbourne trams and the confusion of the free tram zone area vs the paid tram zone area and an interest in more welding courses in the area to help improve youth unemployment statistics.
Also, if you know anyone that isn’t on Facebook but would like to know what I am up to, please let them know that I am on the radio fortnightly. They can listen to 3SRFM with Locco every second Tuesday morning. I am on next on the 24th November usually between 7 and 8 am. I also have a monthly update in the Shepparton News and the Country News summarising some of my activities. My most recent update appeared in Friday, the 13th November edition of the Shepparton News.
I am looking forward to the week ahead back in the electorate.