Domestic and Family Violence

I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments in this debate today. It is the case that a year ago, almost exactly to the day, I was standing in this same place talking about White Ribbon Day. On that occasion, I was reflecting on 40 years previously—that is, 1975—which was International Women's Year—and the events that I remember happening when I was much younger woman than I am now, such as when my mum and a group of women in our local community decided to establish a women's refuge in the area. Great work was done by the public school mother's group, who were the driving force behind that. They were supported by the local council, a group of nuns from Warrawong, local unions and some businesses who provided equipment and paint and so forth. They established the first women's refuge in our area. I am fairly sure that those women then, and my young self at the time, would have hoped that 41 years later-if they could have imagined that I would end up in this place representing the community—it would not be an issue that we had to keep talking about. But we do, and that is why I want to again say how important this issue is, and we can hope that in another 40 years, our successors in this place will not have to have these conversations. Each and every one of us are working towards making that future a reality, in whatever way we can with whatever power we have. Continue reading

MPI - Youth Unemployment

Across this country in communities like mine, and in communities like the member for Cowper's local area, youth unemployment is an extremely significant and important issue to families, to communities and, I would hope, to members of this place. If the member for Cowper thinks that banging the drum again, carrying on about trade unions and criticising the opposition are going to cut it with people who are seriously concerned about youth unemployment, he is very, very wrong. Continue reading

MPI - Inequality

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (16:07): I have to say that the MPI raised by the Leader of the Opposition is a really pertinent issue to be addressing at the end of this week—rising inequality in our communities and of the potential for division that can come from a society where people are missing out on the opportunities that we have, for many generations, seen as a birthright in Australia. Continue reading

VET Student Loans Bill 2016

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (11:16): It is a pleasure to be able to continue to speak on the VET Student Loans Bill 2016 today and, in particular, to support the amendment put forward by the shadow minister for TAFE and vocational education, the member for Adelaide. This cognate debate addresses some very significant and important issues around the VET FEE-HELP scheme. As the shadow minister has rightly indicated in the amendment that she put forward, there is an absolute need, given the history leading up to this point, to have a look at the decisions the government have made so far and what has happened on their watch with this scheme, and to allow that understanding to feed into how we respond to this bill. Continue reading

MPI - Economy

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:45): Thank you, Deputy Speaker—and can I just say, on your behalf: that was an outrageous list of accusations that the member just made against you, Deputy Speaker. I am sure you did not do any of those things whatsoever, so I am very happy to defend your reputation in this place from those accusations. Continue reading

Light it red for dyslexia

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (11:10): It is a real honour to speak in this debate, and I particularly want to commend the member for Wakefield for putting it on the agenda of this place. I also want to acknowledge the excellent contribution by the member for Forde—some very insightful comments there as well. Continue reading

Labor's commitment to the Illawarra

I am very pleased to have the opportunity in the chamber today, under the broad discussion of the appropriation bills, to canvass some of the issues in my local area that have occurred during the election campaign and since then. Continue reading

Mental Health Week

  I want to take the opportunity, as this sitting week comes to an end, to reflect on some of the important conversations and events that occurred as we went through Mental Health Week this week. Many of us in here are aware that we commenced with World Mental Health Day, on Monday, and many of us started wearing our badges. I participated in the campaign to make a personal pledge on mental wellbeing, as I know many of my colleagues did. I was pleased to sign that campaign website and make my personal pledge, which was to give back to my local community through something both fun and meaningful. There was a great range of options for people to consider signing up to. That is still operating, and I would encourage people who are interested in supporting it to go onto the website, make their own pledge and be part of a very important initiative. Continue reading

Statement - Steel Industry

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (10:36): This evening a very important meeting will be occurring in Wollongong, and if it were not for the fact that the House will be sitting the member for Whitlam and I would definitely be there. The Save our Steel committee has convened the public meeting to be held this evening in particular because at this point in time there is legislation before the state parliament that is looking at a strong proposal put forward, which the Labor team are committed to progressing, to provide real opportunities for a strong and vibrant steel industry into the future and to protect long-term jobs. Of course, this meeting occurs in the aftermath of the decisions we saw last week in relation to the loss of car manufacturing across this country. Continue reading

Cunningham Electorate

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:30): I want to take the opportunity in the adjournment debate today to boast a bit about my own electorate. I know that colleagues throughout this place often take the opportunity to talk about fantastic groups and organisations in their electorates. I have to say that I am not biased: I think my local community is a particularly strong one for reaching out and providing support and encouragement to people across our community. There were some great examples of that in the last week while I was in the electorate. Continue reading