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.

I want to start with last Tuesday evening, when I attended a graduation at the Wollongong TAFE. This was a group of students who come from Flagstaff disability enterprises. This is a great local disability employment provider that is very well regarded and does fantastic work in the community. The member for Whitlam and I very often visit there. It is easy to identify a good workplace; you just walk around and talk to the workers there. This is a great example where they are engaged, feeling very positive and proud of their work. Flagstaff has initiated a program of not just employing and training their staff directly on the job but also helping them to get formal qualifications. Many workers there were graduating from certificate II level qualifications in both food processing and waste management. I particularly want to acknowledge two of those students who won Pride of Workmanship awards: Jordan Bowater, who won the Pride of Workmanship award for the Certificate II in Waste Services, and Elicia Holland, who won the Pride of Workmanship award for the Certificate II in Food Processing. It was a really great occasion, to celebrate with all those students on their graduation.

A couple of days later, on Thursday, I was able to attend Flagstaff's workplace. This time, in partnership with the Illawarra Retirement Trust College, they were starting a new program to provide pathways into the aged care sector for people with disabilities. As we know, the aged care sector is one where there are increasing employment opportunities, and to find an effective pathway to get the qualifications for people with disabilities so they have access and opportunity in that sector is a tremendous initiative. That was launched on Thursday and will be delivered by the IRT College. Participants will be getting qualifications that allow them the opportunity to apply for jobs in that sector. I want to acknowledge The Illawarra Mercury's great local story on two of those participants. Broadie Faraday, who is 22 and has worked at Flagstaff for five years, said:

I've worked in packaging, production and waste recycling and have been able to achieve things I never thought possible. I've built my skills and confidence and I've met lots of new friends. Now I can't wait to try something new.

Zoe Davis, who is 27 and has worked at Flagstaff for two years, said:

I'm looking forward to working in aged care—to meeting older people and hearing their stories, to helping them when they need it and doing activities with them.

I commend the Flagstaff CEO, Roy Rogers, and his team, and IRT and Nieves Murray and her team, for this great initiative.

I also had the opportunity on Wednesday to attend a really important forum on dementia, organised by Alzheimer's Australia. Importantly, it made the point for people with dementia that they were not alone. I want to acknowledge the great work of local campaigners Val Fell and Tom Ward on the issue of dementia. I have spoken to them regularly about improving support for dementia sufferers in our local area, and it was great to catch up with Tom at that.

Finally, on Friday the Illawarra Business Chamber had a Mental Health in the Workplace Corporate Luncheon. Former New South Wales opposition leader John Brogden gave a fantastic address at that by talking about how we should support each other as people deal with mental illness issues in the workplace. It was a really great fundraising event organised by the Illawarra Business Chamber. Janine Cullen, who was the MC, did a great job. So our area, once again, all supporting each other— (Time expired)