Ms Bird (Cunningham) (17:50):  I just want to take the opportunity this evening to celebrate some wonderful local champions and to reflect on the fact that there are some tremendous researchers at the University of Wollongong and on the ways they inspire people in the broader community. It's a great story. I'm sure many of my colleagues with connections to universities will know that it's not just what happens within the university but the way they inspire the rest of the community in so many ways.

Earlier this month, I joined my local state colleague the member for Wollongong, Paul Scully, to launch a very important event. It was the Port Kembla kids lemonade stand, raising money for motor neurone disease research. They were raising money for Justin Yerbury's research team at the University of Wollongong, who are working to find a cure for motor neurone disease. These five local Port Kembla children—Ocean and Tully Cross, Oceana and Orion Syred and Brave Sheridan—were inspired by Justin Yerbury's Australian Story. Many of my colleagues may remember seeing the episode on Justin's story. They decided to devote a small part of their school holidays raising funds for his motor neurone disease research team. They were supervised to ensure the quality of the product by their parents Renee Sheridan and Ben Syred. The children encouraged people to bring their own cups because they wanted to discourage single-use plastics, and they used paper cups themselves rather than plastic. They also had a lovely display of succulents for sale, which they'd grown themselves in their backyard, and some essential oils. They were every excited for their classic lemonade stand to be out the front of the garage all set up ready to go. The stand was only scheduled to run for a couple of hours, but it ended up running right through Sunday as well. They sold over 50 litres of lemonade and raised over $1,200 for motor neurone disease research. Justin was so impressed he came out to visit the stall with his wife, Rachel, his sister Naomi and his parents.

I should let the House know that Professor Justin Yerbury is Wollongong's Citizen of the Year for 2019 and is an internationally renowned motor neurone disease researcher, who's led motor neurone disease advocacy, fundraising and research for over a decade. Of course, Justin was inspired by the fact that so many family members have been lost to motor neurone disease. Indeed, he is continuing to work and research while he undertakes his own battle with motor neurone disease. He's built a world recognised motor neurone disease research group at the University of Wollongong. They're an amazing and famous group of people. They're passionate. They organise fundraisers, such as art shows featuring scientific images made by other researchers and scientists at the university, trivia nights and other fundraising activities, to help fund their research work to find a cure for this debilitating disease. He recently, just in the last week or so, presented his latest findings at the University of Wollongong's Big Ideas Festival, a great event that the university organised. It showcased the university's groundbreaking research and the researchers involved. Justin was the first presenter and outlined his research. So I want to congratulate the five kids from Port Kembla and also Justin and his team for such important work.

I was also able to attend the launch of 2020 Biofabrication conference—'biofab by the beach'. This is also a great achievement by the University of Wollongong. It's the first time this conference will be held in Australia.

It will bring over 500 scientists from over 20 countries—engineers, clinicians, regulators and so forth—working in the biofabrication field, and they will be showcased at that event. In particular, it will showcase Professor Gordon Wallace and his team, from the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, another group that really excite and inspire our community with the research and work they're doing in biofabrication, 3D printing and some really cutting-edge work that will help the life and the quality of life of so many Australians.

So that is a great story there as well, and I'm looking forward to sharing more great stories from the university with the House.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.