Community Awards and Stronger Communities Program
Like every member of this House, I think, over the last 18 months I have seen some extraordinary acts of kindness and generosity by residents in our electorates. At its heart, it represents the true spirit of volunteerism, alive and well during some of the most difficult times for our nation. I think of my community service centres, like Sydney Community Services, the Crows Nest Centre or the Kirribilli Centre, which have managed to provide so many services through the support of volunteers. I also think of individuals who, just off their own bat, acted to support their neighbours—the people letterboxing their street to offer services like picking up shopping or helping the elderly, or the young school leavers I saw, who had banded together to provide a shopping service for older people in their suburbs.
That’s why I’m really delighted that this year, after a break last year, I’m able to continue the North Sydney Community Awards, which I have operated since my election to parliament, to acknowledge volunteers and community organisations in my community. I want to give a shout-out to all residents in my area to think about nominating the special person who, either because of the pandemic or more broadly—in our sporting clubs or in supporting our schools, hospitals, community service organisations or churches—has really made a difference to the life of our community.
I particularly love to acknowledge those who generally go unacknowledged, often because they don’t want acknowledgement. Through these awards we have the opportunity to do just that. Nominations are open, and if people would like to get a nomination form they can contact my office. In line with the times, we even have a QR code now, so you can nominate through a QR code on your phone. Our awards are being held on 16 December, and I’m pleased that Shane Fitzsimmons, that legend of the bushfire season, is going to be the special guest. No-one epitomises an organisation based on volunteers like our rural firefighters.
I also want to highlight the role of community organisations across my electorate. One of the meaningful ways that we, as a federal government, support those community organisations is through the Stronger Communities Program. Applications for the Stronger Communities Program are open now, and these grants really make a difference in the life of organisations that often run on the smell of an oily rag. Particularly now, when they haven’t been able to do their usual fundraising, because of the pandemic, I know these grants are going to be even more important. Community organisations in my electorate can get an expression-of-interest form from my office. Just to give you an idea, in the last round we were able to support the incredible Ensemble Theatre, with hearing loops for those hard of hearing; Mary’s House, a domestic violence service; Sydney Community Care; sporting clubs; and the wonderful Scouts organisations, which have gone through such a resurgence in recent years. It’s a great opportunity for our community organisations.