CHARLESTOWN ELECTORATE VOLUNTEERS
Mr ANDREW CORNWELL
(Charlestown) [12.42 p.m.]: Since I became member for Charlestown I have been inspired and humbled to meet so many wonderful volunteers within my community. These people, many of whom work for local community groups, support those in our community who are doing it tough, including those who have been ignored by successive Federal and State governments. Charlestown has been a region traditionally represented by one party and this has resulted in a failure of infrastructure investment and poor service delivery. In March last year the Hunter demonstrated that it was prepared to break with tradition and vote for change, vote for strong representation and vote for a brighter future for the region. It would be foolhardy or naïve for Federal members in the Hunter not to heed that lesson of March and look to the future, rather than wallowing in the traditional partisan politics of the past.
I do not believe that my time is best utilised sitting behind a desk in an office. The majority of my time as the local member is dedicated to reaching out to those in need and highlighting important projects within my electorate that need assistance. One of my focuses has been to begin doorknocking the Charlestown electorate again and to reach out firsthand to those who would not normally converse with their member of Parliament. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Nearly every person that I have spoken to has indicted to me that they cannot believe a member of Parliament is coming to their door to ask how he can assist. I hope I can provide a voice for the most vulnerable in our community.
In this vein I now take the opportunity to acknowledge some of the hardworking volunteers and community groups in the Charlestown electorate. A priority of mine since the March election is to reach out to as many community groups as I can to see firsthand the wonderful work that they do. I highlight two of these organisations that I have come into contact with recently. I would like to start by acknowledging the wonderful work done by Meals on Wheels in the Charlestown electorate. Since my election as a member of Parliament I have had the pleasure of working with many local volunteers and seeing firsthand the difference they make in many people's lives.
Just before Christmas I had the privilege of accompanying Aub Hewston on his Meals on Wheels run. Aub is in his late seventies and has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels for more than 10 years. His enthusiasm and dedication to the job, delivering meals to those less fortunate, continues to inspire me. I specifically acknowledge the staff, Leanne Rodwell, Kelly Griggs, Jenny Gato and Dawn Cousins for their dedication and commitment to the cause. Meals on Wheels Charlestown has more than 150 volunteers who work tirelessly. I also specifically thank 90-year-old Harry James and Burt Wolfe, who still to this day give 100 per cent to the cause.
Meals on Wheels is a familiar name to Australians, and it is at the heart of many communities. It represents helping hands, friendship and looking out for each other. It is also about people in the community joining together to help others. For many people, the Meals on Wheels staff who come out to their homes are their only personal contact for that day. Aub not only delivers meals but provides absolutely fantastic companionship to all people that he touches on a daily basis. Another important group I acknowledge is the Charlestown Caring Group. This group is committed to providing efficient and responsive support services to the frail aged, young people and those with a disability and their carers in my electorate. The wonderful staff, led by Margaret Morgan, are supported by a dedicated, caring and friendly team of volunteers.
Services provided by the Charlestown Caring Group include transport to medical appointments, home visits, in-home respite, assistance with shopping, small and large group activities, as well as bus outings. The contact that the staff and volunteers of Charlestown Caring Group have with the community, just like Meals on Wheels, may be the only contact that those people have on a daily basis. I applaud their dedication and commitment to bringing some light into the lives of the people that they touch. It has been my pleasure to highlight the work of these two organisations. I will continue to highlight the fantastic work that they do in my electorate and bring to the attention of the New South Wales Parliament the personal stories that continue to truly inspire me.