Page 1126 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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Charnwood Oval and whilst it is difficult to accurately assess the numbers, it is believed that 2,000 to 3,000 residents of Charnwood and surrounding suburbs took the opportunity to attend this community event.

The Charny carnival started with a group of parents who knew each other as parents of children attending the Charnwood preschool. After preschool the children went their separate ways, attending either Charnwood primary or St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School. Knowing that both schools worked hard to put on events and fundraisers in competition with each other, often with little success, and also tiring of the stigma associated with Charnwood, Charnwood resident Janette O’Sullivan suggested that the schools work together and put on a big community event. The decision was made to pool their resources for something special for the people of Charnwood. A group of people were enthused by Janette’s vision and, with only a couple of months planning, staged the inaugural carnival last year.

Having been involved with many community-based organisations in the almost 30 years I have been a resident of Canberra, I know full well the enormous energy that is created when a group comes together with a common goal. It is inspiring for me to see the results achieved by such a group and how it adds to the fabric and social cohesion of our society. It becomes the glue that binds us together, and it is what the Stanhope government social plan is all about.

Governments are able to assist this process by providing resources, and it is certainly my experience that such community activities return dividends many-fold on the investment made. To see the many young families and the groups of young people having such a great time can only serve to strengthen the sense of community that is so evident in the north-western suburbs of Belconnen.

I am advised that almost 200 volunteers were responsible for last Saturday’s carnival. However, as we all know, there is always a core group behind such events. I have already mentioned the originator of the carnival, Janette O’Sullivan. However, I would like to put on the record the names of those whom Janette inspired and who worked tirelessly alongside her to stage the 2005 event. Chris Hyland, Frances Freeman, Anita Agett, Felicity Cooper, Cheryl Sahariv, Susan Gordon, Terressa Patterson, Jacqui Dillon, Alison Ware and Michael Pilbrow all assisted her. Members will recall that I have mentioned Mr Pilbrow on previous occasions in this place when I have spoken about the Charnwood community health centre. Mr Pilbrow is the secretary of that committee.

While time obviously does not permit me to mention all the other 200 volunteers, I would like to publicly acknowledge organisations that played a role. The four main organisations responsible for the carnival were St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Charnwood primary school, Charnwood preschool and the North Belconnen Community Association, which runs two community childcare centres. The parents committees of these four organisations provided most of the volunteers, ideas and energy for the carnival. I also acknowledge the Mount Rogers scouts who erected marquees, tables and chairs. Members of the group worked from 7.30 on Saturday morning for long hours, even until 10 o’clock on Sunday.

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