Before flying to Canberra yesterday evening I was very pleased to be able to spend the day in beautiful Diamond Creek in the Scullin electorate. I spent the day in the company of my great friend Vicki Ward, the newly elected state member for Eltham, and it was a pleasure, as ever, to be with her. Vicki had organised a group of people to participate in Clean Up Australia Day around the Challenger Street Reserve in Diamond Creek. I was very pleased that most of the work was done before I arrived—giving me very light duties—but I was really interested to see how many people had come along to participate in this great initiative.
I think it is significant that they were brought together by Vicki, because it is a testament to the way in which she engaged as the candidate for Eltham in the recent state election. Her capacity to bring together people in shared community purposes is something that was on display throughout the election campaign and also on Sunday.Following Clean Up Australia Day, Vicki and I spent some time with the Diamond Creek Men's Shed. This an organisation that have been widely recognised in the Nillumbik and Scullin communities and, indeed, were awarded the 2014 Community Group of the year by the Shire of Nillumbik . It was a very interesting to see the facilities they have and discuss with the group their needs from state and federal governments. This is a group that have done so much for a community, whether it be connecting disengaged and at-risk youth to mentors or providing invaluable support to other community groups not only through the skills members have but also through the social involvement it has created for so many men, particularly older men, of course, in Diamond Creek and surrounds. They were the 2014 Community Group of the Year, recognised by the Shire of Nillumbik.
I am pleased also to acknowledge the 2014 Volunteer of the Year from that community, Ross Mendelsson of Wattle Glen, who has done so much work for his community, in particular as a volunteer driver for the council and other organisations. The work that Ron has done since retiring in 2012 is inspirational to me, and I am very pleased it was recognised by the council. The Australia Day honours also recognised two residents of Scullin from the City of Whittlesea. Kathy Lizio was awarded Senior Citizen of the Year. Her work in the Whittlesea U3A, in particular in bridging the digital divide for older residents of the City of Whittlesea, has been inspirational. At the other end of the spectrum, I acknowledge Rachael Davies, who was awarded Young Citizen of the Year. Rachel is only in year 11 at St Monica’s College in Epping Year 11 but has done so much to address and advance the role and plight of asylum seekers and refugees, her mission being changing mindsets through raising awareness and advocacy. At this young age, Rachael is already a member of the Multifaith Multicultural Youth Network, providing advice to the Victorian government, and will be heading overseas to the United States to continue her work.
I am pleased to be able to celebrate the wonderful work of volunteers in the Scullin electorate. There are those who have been appropriately recognised by councils, but I say to the many others who do great work that is yet to be recognised: we are aware of what you do for our community.