ADJOURNMENT;Vietnam: Orphanages – 21 Jun 2011

I say a special hello to all those people I know that are listening tonight—one special friend, Joe, under a bit of sufferance. I rise to speak on a fundraising event that my husband and I hosted in Hobart in May. This event was a quiz night held as a fundraiser for three orphanages in Vietnam: the Phu My Orphanage, the Mai Tam Shelter and the Anunciation Shelter, all in Ho Chi Minh City. As I have mentioned before, my husband and I did volunteer work there in December last year. Following our time volunteering there, we decided that we wanted to do a bit more when we came home and to raise some funds that are so dearly needed by those orphanages.

Having spoken about that trip previously I want to focus on the quiz night itself. It was a really great night and one of those fundraisers where political differences are put aside. People came from far and wide to participate. We had participants from all across southern Tasmania. I think the furthest was from Granton, a good 30-plus minutes away from the venue, a long way on a wet May night in Tasmania. I thank everyone for attending that night.

Robert and I along with our very good friend Eric Siedler organised the event. Like all these events, a lot of hard work went into the planning as well as the night itself. The venue was kindly donated by Mackillop Catholic College, which is on Hobart’s eastern shore and where Eric is chairman of the board. In addition to finding a venue, we had the usual general organisational issues around invites, getting the word out, seeking donations for prizes and seeking donations to the general appeal. And, of course, we had to come up with some quiz questions and a few activities to add some entertainment to the night.

I would like to place on the public record my thanks to Eric Siedler for all the hard work he put into organising the event. He was on leave at the time; he had a few weeks leave from his more than full-time work, and he spent a lot of his personal time organising the quiz night for us. He really went above and beyond for us, as he always does, and we sincerely thank him. As I said, there were people from all over southern Tasmania in attendance. We did send some emails out to people, but many attended because they had heard about it from a friend or colleague or read about it in the church magazine. Regardless of how they heard about the event, everyone there had the common goal of raising money for this worthy cause and for the kids in Vietnam—and, of course, everyone wanted to have a bit of fun while they were there. So we had questions on the Royal family, sport and history. Some rounds required you to match a sound clip to a movie or name the band or song title, while another round had you matching countries with their flags. To make it relevant to the cause, we created a round on a Vietnam, and of course we had the obligatory quiz night round where you have to match celebrity names to their photos. I am pretty happy that I was not an organiser of the event and did not have to do any of those, because I think I would have let the side down somewhat in those things. We had a couple of rounds that did not earn points, which was interesting because the people who took part told me they were just as challenging. Although this night was a fundraiser for the Vietnamese orphanages, let me tell you that the competition between the different tables and teams was very, very strong. There was a great competitive spirit which saw people racing up to the scorers to hand in their answer sheets in some of the rounds between challenges.

To help increase the fundraising we had an auction of three items as well. We had a giant lint-stuffed bunny. We also had a fish tank that was donated by the pet shop at the local shopping centre—and I will thank them later as well. When they handed over the fish tank they said, ‘All you need is water and fish,’ because it was a complete fish tank. We also had a gorgeous handmade teddy bear that friend of ours had made. All of those things, as I said, were generously donated.

As I said, I would like to thank Eric Siedler for helping to organise the event and for being master of ceremonies and quizmaster extraordinaire. He really is great as a quizmaster. We have had quiz nights for other things, and we get so many people commenting on how well organised they are and what a great quizmaster Eric is, so I really have to say thank you to him. I also thank the rest of his family—his wife, Tracy, and his two sons, Declan and Kieren, who were there on the night helping to set up and score and generally running around. I also thank my own son Kieren for helping out on the night.

I would especially like to mention Matt Monaghan and his young son Riley. Riley is only 5½ and he wanted to come and help. He was a fantastic help on the night. He was running around collecting rubbish from people and doing whatever we asked him to do. A 5½-year-old at 10 o’clock at night—it could have ended up not quite pleasant, but he was absolutely fantastic. I would also like to thank Rick and Chris Goninon for helping as well. They all played an important role in making sure the event ran smoothly, whether it was serving behind the bar, scoring, delivering and collecting answer sheets from the tables, picking up rubbish or helping to clean up.

I thank the Principal of Mackillop Catholic College, Mrs Sally Towns; the acting principal, Sue Howard; the business manager, Kaylene Bentley; and the school community for donating the use of the hall. It was a perfect venue for the event. We had about 29 tables with eight people at each table. For an event in Hobart on a May night, that was a really good turnout. Thank you also to Miss Andrea Towns for setting up the PA system, to the maintenance staff for setting up the tables and chairs and to the security people who were there as well.

Thank you to all the businesses and individuals who donated prizes and auction items for the night or a monetary donation. I will quickly run through who they are: Robert Rockefeller; the State Cinema; McDonalds Rosny Park; Cadburys; Eastlands Pet Supplies, who donated the fish tank; Bennett’s Petroleum Supplies Pty Ltd; David Eyles; Nick Cooling; Skigia; John Redeker; Shannon Stennings; Tori van Nieuwkuyk; Judy Hayden; Wesfarmers Kleenheat; Charlie Rich; and Ben Daley.

Thanks must go to everyone who participated on the night. The entry fee and the purchase of raffle tickets and auctions items altogether raised $5,000 on the night. Robert and I had also done a bit of fundraising in the preceding weeks and raised $5,000. Robert told me through the week that the total money we were able to send was over $11,000, which, for four or five weeks fundraising, is a brilliant outcome. The money will be given to the orphanages in Vietnam directly and that will make life a little bit smoother and a little bit more comfortable for those children. The $11,000 raised was far above our expectations.

I offer my sincere thanks to everyone involved. It just goes to show that if you want to make a difference in this world you can. And it does not have to be a big donation. If you add all the donations together, the $11,000 will make such a difference to those kids. I cannot even put into words what a difference it will make. The orphanages will be able to buy physiotherapy equipment, toys or whatever they need. It is up to the orphanages to determine what they need. I look forward to updating the Senate at a later date on what they have used that money for. I send my thanks to everyone for their participation.