Red Cross Food Drive
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
This sitting week has been a time for us to discuss what we can do to improve the Australian Capital Territory and to better serve and support the people we represent. We feel the weight of our responsibilities, and I know that the concerns raised by my constituents have weighed very heavily on my mind. I will continue to strive for changes that will lift burdens from individuals and families and will make their lives better.
At this time, however, I want to reflect on the work of so many in the ACT who strive to reach out to others and make their lives better. I recently had the opportunity to see the wonderful work that Red Cross Australia does, and I would like to take this time to acknowledge the tremendous service provided by their workers, volunteers and supporters.
Over the Christmas period, I established my office as a collection point for the local Red Cross’s food drive for refugee families, and I invited my fellow Members of the Legislative Assembly, their staff, and the Assembly staff to join me in making contributions for these refugees, primarily from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.
These refugees have suffered more than many of us can ever understand, having faced unbelievable trials in their homelands with great courage and deep inner strength and then facing a new culture, new language and new ways in their adopted home. I can relate somewhat to their experiences, having come to Australia from Tonga as a little girl, when I knew no English or how to fit into this country.
I wish to thank all in the Assembly who brought generous contributions of food to my office in December. We loved seeing so many of you stop by with your gifts. A woman who works in one of the Assembly offices brought a bag of food every single day for an entire week because she travels to the city on a bus.
I am happy to report that Joe from the Red Cross informed me after he and his partner had distributed the contributions from my office that we in the Assembly provided enough food to make Christmas hampers for 50 families and 150 individuals.
Reaching out to refugee families has been important to my family. Last year my daughter Utopia took it upon herself to sew bags to give to refugees in Canberra.
I thank Red Cross Australia for all that they do in regards to blood drives, caring for the elderly, providing relief to those suffering from crisis or disasters and reaching out to those in need. Red Cross Australia truly show the power of humanity. I am grateful that they gave me the opportunity to help them in this work and for their continued effort.
I encourage all Canberrans who have the ability to take the opportunity to volunteer and serve others. I particularly encourage youth to be involved in volunteer work. Studies have shown that youth who serve others are transformed by the experience. Studies have also shown that volunteer work contributes to our health and wellbeing. It provides us with a sense of purpose and a sense of contribution.
But most of all, it truly allows us to make Canberra a better place. May we all follow the example of wonderful organisations such as Red Cross Australia and others and give of our time, our means and our abilities to truly build a stronger Canberra.