Its hard to imagine a more difficult or selfless endeavour than that of Rosie Batty. After losing her son Luke to an appalling act of violence by her estranged partner she embarks apon a national campaign to put the spotlight on the plight of others. Nearly 1 in 4 women experience violence by a partner in their life according to the ABS. Their research shows its close to half a million women each year. If a disease was so virulent we would describe it as an epidemic.
To name Rosie as the Australian of the Year is a fitting recognition of what she stands for and what we need to address as a nation.
It’s a shame that her award has been overshadowed by the grant of Knighthood to an elderly gent in England. The Prince may be the most down to earth bloke in Buckingham, but the point is this – on Australia Day the focus should be on Australia – the things we can celebrate and the problems we need to address in our own backyard. I think most Australians agree.
In the Illawarra and Southern Highlands there were a host of worthy nominees for Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year. Its hard to cavil with the choice of those who succeeded. On Saturday I joined Harlan Hall in Berrima to open the wonderful exhibition of photographs from Gallipoli on display at the Berrima Museum. On Monday he was named Citizen of the Year in the Wingeecarribee. He was joined by Luke Webb from Mossvale High. Luke is a talented musician and active volunteer in the district.
At Shellharbour City we recognised Dorathy Dean from Albion Park. Dorathy, joined the Airforce at age 21, is a tireless volunteer for veterans . While delaing with his own battle with cancer, Jason Carrasco was there to support his friend Cass and to organise fundraising events in her honour after she died. He is Shellharbour’s Young Citizen of the Year and will use the position to raise the profile of young people living with cancer.
In Wollongong well known local business woman Janine Cullen was recognised for her great work in countless community causes including Light for Hope, Greenacres and International Women’s Day. For Young citizen of the Year there was a dead heat with medical research student and local volunteer Michael Santis and SES volunteer Ashley Health sharing the honour.
To each of these great people - thanks for your contribution – and I look forward to working with you in service of the community this year.
There has been a lot of noise in the last couple of weeks about higher education. Although it is difficult to know where things currently stand I can tell you that Labor will never support the Abbott Government’s plans for $100,000 degrees.
When I speak to students in my electorate they tell me that their ability to work hard and get the possible marks is what should matter, not the size of their bank balance. I couldn’t agree more.
If you want to get involved and mark your voice heard, why not join Labor’s campaign against these unfair changes to higher education? Go to http://www.nodebtsentence.org/ and join the fight!
Tomorrow (Saturday 31st) I will in Albion Park and talking to people in the community about what matters to them.
If you would like to join in come to the Albion Park Rail Newsagency (187 Princes Hwy, Albion Park Rail) from 9 30am to 10 30am or the Albion Park Woolworths (1 Russel Street) from 11 am to 12 noon.
Feel free to ask me about any issues that are important to you.
Dapto Scout Group
Next Thursday (5 February) I will be presenting a brand new Australian flag to the Dapto Scout Group.
After being introduced to the leaders of the group I will be handing over the flag to the scouts who will proudly raise it themselves.
Really looking forward to chatting to them about what they get out of scouts and what the Australian flag means for them.
Riding for the Disabled
This week I was fortunate enough to visit the “Riding for the Disabled Association” Illawarra Centre.
I had a cup of tea with those who volunteer at the centre and was keen to learn more about Riding for the Disabled. It is a not for profit organisation managed and run entirely by volunteers which provides adults and children with disabilities from the local community the chance to learn the sport of horse riding. The exercise has numerous therapeutic benefits, which they enjoy in a safe and controlled environment.
They have witnessed people who refused to talk chatting and joking, teachers amazed at the near perfect behaviour of children with ADHD and people with weak limbs improve their mobility and functionality.
Fighting for TAFE
Across the Illawarra on Thursday, students had the opportunity to visit TAFE campuses. State Liberal Governments have taken the axe to TAFE with funding cuts, sackings and fee increases.
My local Labor colleagues and I got together at the Illawarra Institute Dapto Campus and delivered a clear message – this is not good enough!
Stephen Jones MP