Getting Active For Charity

Click here to watch Sharon’s speech

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:48): I want to talk to the chamber today about a wonderful new trend I have observed in my local area. It is not so much that the event itself is unusual; it is just how often it is happening now—and that is, the charity fundraising walk, ride or run. I do not tend to do the runs so much, I will be honest, but almost every weekend there is a fantastic opportunity to go out in the community to enjoy getting a bit fit and healthy and also to raise funds for good causes.

Yesterday I was able to join the Melanoma March, which was having its second year in Wollongong, obviously organised by the Melanoma Institute Australia. It was a really great occasion, though, as these things always are, tinged with some sadness as we remembered those who have lost their battles. But I just want to commend the organiser, Jay Allen, and the local melanoma support group. There were over 300 participants and we heard from people battling melanoma: Ruth Davey, Andrew Rust, Julie Sutton, Bettina and her daughter Maddie, and Sarah Roosink, who spoke at the end of the walk, as balloons were released in memory of those who were lost. It was a really great fundraising effort and well supported, I have to say, by the Rotary clubs as well.

In April the Kembla Joggers are organising their fundraising event. So far it has raised over $100,000 for local charities. They have been doing that for 25 years, so I give great credit to the Kembla Joggers. Wave FM, our local radio station, has the Great Illawarra Walk. They are walking from 21 to 22 March. I will be participating in that walk as well. They have raised about $330,000 over the last seven years. This year their support goes to Southern Youth and Family Services, which is a young people's homelessness and support service in our area. Again, that is a good cause.

Greenacres disability services have the Mountain to Mountain Challenge. You can walk from the base of Mount Keira to the heights of Mount Kembla in August. It is about 12½ kilometres. You can participate in the walk with spectacular views and great company. It is a good walk and if you want to you can assist in raising funds for Greenacres disability services as well.

My colleague the member for Throsby quite often participates in the Ride Around the Lake, which is a bike ride to raise funds for homeless young people, and the Lighthouse Youth Initiative. That is in May. As you can see, there are plenty of events in our spectacular part of the world.

On Thursday last week I joined Ryan Park, the member for Keira, to announce that a New South Wales Labor government would provide $1 million to join our bits of walks up so that one day, we hope, you can actually walk the full length of the Illawarra coastline and enjoy our spectacular local area. Perhaps that will provide a new venue for charity fundraising as well.