Page 1630 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2017

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Mr Matthew Owen

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (6.36): Tonight I rise to speak about Matthew Owen, who is a great Canberran. He is both a champion yachtsman and a great supporter of underprivileged kids and people with disabilities. Matt joins us in the Assembly this evening and I welcome him here. Matt Owen, or “Pillow” as he is known to many in the sailing community, is the CEO of the Canberra Yacht Club and has been for the past 16 years.

Along with his sailing partner, Andrew Reed, he is a three-time Australian national flying fifteen champion and a two-time national champion in keeled boats. Matt has won over 25 ACT championships in sailing, and is the current New Zealand flying fifteen champion—it is nice to know that we beat the Kiwis in something—having won that championship this year with Andrew Reed again. He has finished in the top five of the world championships on two occasions, including this year.

Outside of the yacht club, where Matt is very highly regarded, most Canberrans would probably be unaware that we have such a successful and world renowned sailor here in Canberra. Through his work at the Canberra Yacht Club, Matt has been instrumental in promoting sailing on the lake but also supporting and developing Buoyed Up with Tackers. I quote from the Yacht Club website:

The CYC’s Buoyed Up with Tackers, is an initiative which assists vulnerable, at-risk children aged 7-12 years to participate in the Tackers Junior Sailing program as a way to build confidence, self-esteem and engage in an active lifestyle.

The program provides children from disadvantaged backgrounds with a unique fun-based opportunity which will enhance their general life skills and capability. The program eventually aims to train participants as assistant instructors, offering a vocational pathway or part-time employment, as well as provide an avenue to give back to the club. The program has delivered these life-building programs to over 1,000 of Canberra’s young disadvantaged children. Matt has also been a very keen supporter of Sailability ACT, which supports people with a disability who want to sail and experience the freedom of being on the water. Like many people who are genuine champions and who are active in supporting others, Matt is humble and unassuming and is quick to emphasise the contributions and successes of others over his own.

But what is more remarkable, members, is that Matt has been winning state and national championships and helping others while himself living with terminal cancer. After being told by oncologists that he had seen his last Christmas a couple of years ago, Matt has defied the odds and lived more in the past two years than many of us do in a lifetime and is still going strong. I am just thankful that he decided that boot camp was no longer an option for his long-suffering boot camp partner and so I do not have to get up early on cold winter mornings.

I know that Matt’s family has been a big part of his success in supporting his sailing career and fighting his cancer. His beautiful wife, Karen, and his son, Will, are a

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