ADJOURNMENT;Lord’s Taverners – 11 Mar 2010

Tonight I rise to speak on the Lord’s Taverners. I decided to speak about the Lord’s Taverners because it is an organisation that does so much good work in the community. It really encourages a socially inclusive society, which is something the Rudd government is working hard on achieving as well. The idea of a club for actors and members of allied professions was the brainchild of a group of cricket-loving actors who habitually watched cricket from the tavern at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. In 1950 this club was named the Lord’s Taverners and registered as a charity dedicated to the promotion of cricket among young people.The Lord’s Taverners Australia was founded in 1982 by John Darling, a direct descendant of Australia’s 10th test captain, Joe Darling. After some discussion, it was agreed that the new organisation would be independent of the parent body, with the only official link between the two bodies being a common twelfth man—His Royal Highness Prince Philip. Today the Lord’s Taverners Australia is a federated, autonomous organisation with branches in all states and territories and approximately 2,000 members. These members come from all walks of life, with media, the professions, the arts, entertainment and business communities, as well as politicians from all sides of politics, being quite well represented. What we have in common is a love of sport generally, a love of cricket in particular but, most importantly, a desire to raise money to support disadvantaged and/or disabled young people.

As a charitable association, the primary aim of the Lord’s Taverners Australia is to raise money through membership subscription, sponsorship, fundraising activities and donations. The financial disbursement program is balanced across a number of worthy causes, including the provision of sporting facilities, equipment and opportunities for underprivileged and/or disadvantaged young people. These young people need assistance because of financial constraints, geographical isolation or a physical or intellectual disability. With a commitment of $30,000, the Lord’s Taverners Australia was the major sponsor of the tri-nations tournament for mentally and physically impaired cricketers held in Melbourne from 1 to 11 December last year. The event was held to coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The Lord’s Taverners was also instrumental in the creation, back in 2000, of the Imparja Cup competition for Indigenous cricketers and continues to be a major sponsor. I will speak more about that a bit later.

The Lord’s Taverners helps promote an understanding of disability issues. The whole community gains through the integration of persons with disabilities into all aspects of life. Since its inception in 1982, the organisation has raised and disbursed more than $10 million in cash and kind. Current disbursements of cash alone are in the order of $330,000 annually, and it is expected that this will reach $500,000 by 2015. A secondary but equally important aim is to ensure that the fundraising events that are organised, and the way they are run, generate enjoyment and fellowship among members and guests.

Let me tell you a bit more about this great organisation and what it does. In mid-2009, an Indigenous cricket team travelled to England, under the auspices of Cricket Australia, with significant financial support from the Lord’s Taverners. The team was following in the footsteps of the first wholly Indigenous Australian cricket team, which took this journey in 1868. The tour was a tremendous success, both on and off the field, with the excellent record of eight wins and three losses. Many of the team members are seen to have the potential for higher honours. These young men had never been out of Australia before, and they have each stated how much they are looking forward to being role models back in their own communities. The Lord’s Taverners also supports blind and deaf cricket and outfitted the blind team that met England in a test series in Australia late in 2008.

I would like to share some more details about the Imparja Cup, a national Indigenous carnival sponsored by the Lord’s Taverners Australia and supported by Cricket Australia, which every year attracts teams of talented Aboriginal cricketers from all states and territories. The first Imparja match was played in 1994 as a result of an initiative by Shane and Mervyn Franey, from Alice Springs, and Ross Williams, from Tennant Creek. Imparja Television backed the event, which became so popular that, in 1998, Northern Territory Cricket, after an approach from Shane and Ross, agreed to help with the organisation of the event. Shortly afterwards, Cricket Australia also backed the concept and officially recognised the Imparja Cup as a national competition, and Lord’s Taverners Australia came on board as a national sponsor. The cup has grown from a two-team competition to a five-team competition to a 28-team five-division competition for men and women to a 42-team competition in 2009.

But it is at the branch level where the Lord’s Taverners has its greatest impact on grassroots sport for disabled and disadvantaged young people. In this regard, I would like to speak about the Lord’s Taverners in my home state of Tasmania. My husband and I have been proud members of the Tasmanian branch of the Lord’s Taverners for quite some time. Every year, we try to attend their two major fundraising events—the now iconic Ron Barassi Snr Memorial Debate and the international cricket breakfasts. I take this opportunity to thank Mark Thomas, from CPR Communications. I have known Mark for a long time. He MCs these events every time, and he does it with flair and a terrific sense of humour. He takes the time to talk to the guests beforehand to get a better understanding of the people involved. Mark gets close to people. He does not charge anything for this. He does it all for nothing. Everyone I know who is involved appreciates his efforts and enjoys his humour.

The events that the Lord’s Taverners runs, together with membership subscriptions, have enabled the Tasmanian branch to provide the following support to the Tasmanian community over the last two years: grants to Special Olympics to help with the cost of swimming, soccer and athletics carnivals; a grant to Guide Dogs Tasmania for a fitness program for visually impaired athletes; respite care grants for recreational support to Cosmos, Camp Quality and Cerebral Palsy Tasmania; scholarships for young footballers and cricketers from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend sports camps; scholarships for young athletes with disabilities to pursue their sporting dreams; support for Tasmanian teams to attend the National Junior Disabled Games and Special Olympics competitions; individual grants for disabled athletes to attend national competitions; grants to help wheelchair athletes attend national competitions; and a grant to the Tasmanian Riding for the Disabled Association for a coaching accreditation course. Of course, other state and territory branches provide similar assistance under their charter of ‘Giving the young and disadvantaged a sporting chance’.

I recently attended with the Lord’s Taverners day-night match between Australia and the West Indies at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval. This event was more than just a cricket match. It was the start of a new era for cricket in Tasmania with the switching on of new lights, which were funded by the Rudd government. I was pleased to be able to join with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon. Anthony Albanese, Premier David Bartlett and the federal member for Franklin, Julie Collins, for this important occasion. It was also a privilege for me to represent the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, at the Special Olympics in Launceston a couple of weekends ago. The Lord’s Taverners gave generously to this event. I believe this event is worthy of a speech of its own, so I will speak further on it at a future time.