Page 3903 - Week 10 - Thursday, 27 August 2009

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AFS Australia

MR COE (Ginninderra) (6.40): On Tuesday night, Mr Smyth and I had the privilege of attending the AFS Australia 50-year celebration. AFS Australia was established in 1959, with the first students going on exchange in 1960. For 50 years, Australians have had the fantastic experience of going abroad and receiving people from such far away places as the United States of America, Japan, Slovakia, Portugal and many other places. Today, students from Canberra, the capital region, Australia and around the world travel as part of a high school experience, to volunteer abroad or for short cultural programs.

Tuesday night’s celebration at the Crowne Plaza was a fantastic occasion for volunteers, host families, students, past and present, to share stories and enjoy the wonderful experiences provided by AFS. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing more about the organisation and the life-changing experiences so many people have had.

The history of the American Field Service dates back to World Wars I and II, when young people served as volunteer ambulance drivers and in other essential support services. Upon returning home, an organisation was formed “to promote peace through international student exchange”. The organisation is largely run by volunteers whose service includes everything from hosting students, holding fundraisers, promoting the exchanges, supporting students and much, much more.

I would like to extend my thanks to the volunteer office holders of the AFS Canberra team, including the chairman, Craig Kerr; host student support coordinator, Michelle Freeman; sending team leader, John Anderson; recruitment team leader, Tracey Giffard; entertainment book coordinator, Kaylene Williams; and barbecue fundraising, Tania and Roger Hancock. I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the people just mentioned and the president and CEO of AFS International, Tachi Cazal from New York. On Tuesday night, Mr Cazal said of AFS, “It turns places into people,” which I think is a wonderful way at looking at the great work done by this organisation. We were also joined by the National Director of AFS Australia, Aasha Murphy, and I would like to acknowledge her work for the organisation.

AFS is a great organisation that has a tremendous impact on the lives of so many young Canberrans. I look forward to supporting the organisation in any way I can and we look forward to the next 50 years of AFS in Australia. Anyone interested in the exchange program, sponsorship or volunteering should call AFS on 1300 131 736 or visit their website at

Health—general practitioners

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (6.43): I rise tonight to sadly tell the story of yet more bad news for Canberra families, with the decision that has been made this week that the two large clinics that were previously bulk-billing in Canberra will no longer be doing so for many of their patients, although there will be still bulk-billing for children up to the age of 16 and for pensioners. There are lots of families now who find it very difficult to find a bulk-billing GP in Canberra—in fact, any GP in Canberra—who now will find it even more difficult to do so.

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