Last week was the final week of Parliament for 2015. I am so pleased to be back in the electorate for the next couple of months. With my large extended and blended family we had our first Christmas family gathering on Saturday and combined it with Peter’s birthday. He is a real gadget man and loved his present. I always struggle with presents for those members of the family whose birthdays are so close to Christmas!
My week began with a full day of the Family and Community Development Committee public hearing in Melbourne. We heard testimony from several witnesses and organisations. It has been very disappointing to hear how the system has failed a number of people. I hope the recommendations of the committee will be taken into account by the government to change this.
Road safety - During parliament, I used my members’ statement to discuss road safety. It seems that lately every other news story is about a road accident. I mentioned that ten people have died on the roads in the Shepparton local government area this year. At the same time last year it was only two. Thirty-five people have died in motor vehicle accidents across the Goulburn Valley this year to date. I urge the community to take extra care on our country roads so that holidays for all Victorians and their families are happy and peaceful.
Crown land - I also spoke on the Land (Revocation of Reservations) Bill 2015 which I supported. One very small bit of land that is in my electorate at Waaia was referred to in the bill and the permanent reservation of that land was revoked. The piece of land in question occupies only 0.2 of a hectare on the Broken Creek, east of Nathalia but it belonged to a family who had purchased the land only to find that part of their house had been built over the boundary on Crown land back in the 1930s. The legislation will revoke a permanent reservation and enable this family to purchase the land which their house occupies.
Public transportI had the opportunity to catch up briefly with the Minister for public transport Jacinta Allen. She arranged for me to be briefed by her advisers who also sought my feedback from the community consultations. I anticipate that we will hear more about the outcomes of the Regional Development Network Plan early in the New Year.
Events that I and/or my staff attended during the week include:
- A joint Amnesty International and Oxfam breakfast on the issue of Indigenous Youth Justice. We heard from Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of the Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Prevention Service.
- I attended a seminar entitled ‘Detroit: What lessons for Victoria from a post-industrial city?’ presented by Dr Tom Barnes. Detroit is perhaps the global exemplar of industrial decline. After decades of depopulation and deindustrialisation, the ‘Motor City’ was severely undermined by America’s recession in 2008-09 and the bankruptcy of its city government in 2013. Importantly, Detroiters are implementing a range of innovative measures in response to these challenges. I was most interested to take on board that some of the work in education could be relevant to our electorate.
- I was honoured to meet with several local volunteers from the electorate at parliament on Wednesday. Congratulations to local volunteers Joan Mitchell and June Murray. Joan received the Molly Hadfield Special Commendation and is one of several public housing tenants recognised on Tuesday at the Penington Hadfield Awards for work in their communities. Rumbalara independent living resident June also received a Certificate of Recognition at the Pennington Hadfield Awards. You can read more about these awards here: http://www.housing.vic.gov.au/frances-penington-and-molly-hadfield-awards
- I used my constituency question to ask the Minister for Police to find a solution for volunteers who are currently required to obtain police checks for each organisation they volunteer for.
- Ronni from my office attended the McAuley Champagnat Programme (MCP) “True Colours” ceremony on Tuesday. The school put on a lovely ceremony which included Katrina Mohamed singing the Cyndi Lauper song, True Colors. There were 5 teams of students that each presented what they have achieved during the year. MCP is an innovative educational programme of Notre Dame College, designed to meet the educational needs of disengaged students in the Greater Shepparton Region that are not being met by current education providers. They have just celebrated their 10th year and have had some fantastic outcomes for our local youth. I wish all the students good luck.
- Ronni also attended the launch of the latest mural on Welsford St at the Shepparton police station. This mural was painted by Echuca resident Neva Atkinson. The new addition depicts two turtles that represent the land of the Yorta Nation and denotes police and aboriginal people working together for better outcomes. This mural was added to the others done by local artist, Tank. This is a great visual which represents the social cohesion within our region. Kudos to Thelma Bull for having the foresight for this project.
I am sure that most students are very excited about this being their last week of school before the break. For those who are graduating this year, I send my congratulations.
I hope many of you can come along to the GV Health Community Advisory Group public forum tomorrow night at the Parklake.