Page 2732 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 15 August 2017

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Cabaret Festival, all to rave reviews. In 2015 Toby was offered a place with the popular and long-running Australian phenomenon the 10 Tenors for their US, Australia and New Zealand tours, and in early 2016 he performed with them at the Canberra Theatre, to the delight of his hometown audience.

At the end of the 10 Tenors tour Toby found that he had landed the role of Charlie in the Australian production of Kinky Boots. As we fast-forward to the show’s opening night with Cyndi Lauper on the red carpet in October last year, the critics were united in their praise of the lad from Latham with the dynamic stage presence and the amazing voice.

Toby Francis comes from a local family well known for its community service. His grandfather, the late Lieutenant Colonel Neil Harris, worked tirelessly for his community through his long association with the Belconnen Lions Club. His enormous contribution was recognised by an Order of Australia, selection as a torchbearer in the Sydney Olympics and, posthumously, the naming of Neil Harris Crescent in Forde.

Toby followed in his grandfather’s altruistic footsteps with a stint as Camp Quality’s travelling mascot, Giggle, performing for sick children in hospitals across New South Wales. Toby’s grandmother, Audrey Harris, is a former Quota Club district convener and a View Club member. Toby’s mother, Linda, still lives in Latham with Toby’s younger brother, Sam, a talented poet. I was fortunate to have Linda volunteer on my campaign last year. Toby Francis is a Canberra success story. We can all be proud of him. It has been my great pleasure to speak about him today in the Assembly. I wish him well and I hope that he will soon grace a Canberra stage again.

Share the Dignity

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (5.48): I feel privileged to represent an electorate with a diversity of people who embody Canberra’s innate sense of compassion, empathy and community spirit. This evening, I rise to speak about a very special cause that commenced on 1 August. Share the Dignity was an initiative founded by Rochelle Courtenay in 2015 after she discovered that thousands of Australian women cannot access sanitary products when they need them.

Over 85,000 Australian women and girls cannot afford or access sanitary products. A topic which at times has been taboo and not spoken about, a situation which we all take for granted, is a tragic reality for homeless women, women in domestic violence shelters and women and girls living in poverty. Ms Courtenay rightly saw this as entirely unacceptable in modern day Australia and was inspired to take action. In March 2015 she held the first sanitary drive in Brisbane, aimed at providing sanitary products to underprivileged women and girls.

Since then, Share the Dignity has grown into a national initiative which has collected over 650,000 packets of pads and tampons from collection points in businesses, schools and other locations all over Australia, including at our very own Canberra handmade markets.

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