Page 1971 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 14 May 2013

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I would like to thank the organisers of the event on the night of the high performance awards. It was, as usual, a very professional presentation night, and a lot of people—a lot of hard workers, including a lot of volunteers—received due recognition for their efforts.

It is also very important to note that it is Volunteer Week. I would like to take a couple of moments to put on record my thanks and appreciation to all those people who give up their time to help others, whether it is the parent who manages or trains the local hockey, netball, football or cricket team, who takes home the team uniforms each week and washes them, or who runs the school canteen; whether it is someone who takes an official position in a club; whether it is those who sing in the Australian Rugby Choir or at the Brumbies matches; or whether it is those who stand at the gates and direct traffic on behalf of Rotary or the Lions.

A group that I particularly wish to highlight today is people in the school volunteer program. This is a program in which people spend time with children in a school setting. Their work is centred on a belief in the power of relationships. For children to thrive, they need to be connected to and supported by an extended network of caring people with the skills and time to listen and provide guidance. The school volunteer program engages students at any stage in their educational pathway, from kindergarten to high school. The volunteers help these children at risk of not achieving their educational potential by providing high quality mentoring programs.

The volunteers come from all walks of life and range from 18 years of age to 90 years, all with varying degrees of experience, professions and jobs. They have one thing in common—the wish to give back to their local community. As mentors, they are not a replacement for a parent, nor are they a counsellor or a teacher; they are a sounding board and a confidante of a young person. If anyone wants to be a successful volunteer mentor with the school volunteer program, it is suggested that they will need patience, empathy and life experience. It is this last criterion that is most valued and makes the program an ideal one.

This program is ideal for those who have retired and still feel they have something to contribute. I cannot speak highly enough of its work or of its national patron, a former Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery AC AO. I would urge all Canberrans who have some free time to give this program some consideration. There are many children who do not have the opportunity for a grandparent or mentor to be in their lives. This program, the student volunteer program, fills that gap.

Ms Lena Nyadbi

DR BOURKE: (Ginninderra) (4.39): Tonight I pay homage to a great Australian artist, Lena Nyadbi. I recently had the pleasure of attending a ceremony at the Australian National Gallery where Lena Nyadbi launched her latest commission. The significance of Ms Nyadbi’s work was reflected by the guests. They included the federal Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, the French ambassador, the President of the Musee du quai Branly in Paris, the Australia Council for the Arts chair Rupert Myer, and Ms Lee-Ann Buckskin, chair of the Australia Council Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board.

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