International Volunteers Day

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I volunteered so much for my local charity, Kingborough Helping Hands, that they asked me to join the committee as well as be their Patron!

Volunteering is not only a great way to help our community – it also helps us develop friendships, keep active and gain a personal sense of achievement.

Despite the daily demands of my job as a senator, I’m still able to find time to volunteer. If you’re not a volunteer too, what’s stopping you?

Visit Volunteering Tasmania’s website to find out what volunteering opportunities are available in your area.

Happy International Volunteers’ Day!

Food Delivery Rider Deaths

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Five food delivery riders have been killed on Australian roads recently in the course of their work. Because they are regarded as ‘independent contractors’ they are working in unsafe conditions for low pay, and when they die at work their families have no access to workers’ compensation.

Delivery riders should be engaged as employees’ with full rights to award rates of pay, safe working conditions and compensation if they get killed or seriously injured in the course of their employment.

This is an absolute outrage and the Morrison Government needs to fix it.

RoboDebt Royal Commission

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The Morrison trifecta – Robodebt was Scott Morrison’s brainchild as Social Services Minister, he banked the money as Treasurer and refused to stop the scheme as Prime Minister even though he knew it was illegal. Could this be why Mr Morrison refuses to call a #RobodebtRoyalCommission?

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

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Today – 15 October 2020 – marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Every year Australian families suffer over 2,000 stillbirths and over 100,000 miscarriages.

I am proud to have participated in the Senate inquiry into Stillbirth Research and Education along with my Labor colleagues Kristina Keneally and Malarndirri McCarthy, both of whom have continued to be strong advocates for parents of stillborn babies.

As a parent of a stillborn baby my participation in the inquiry was a painful reminder of my own tragedy yet a necessary contribution to public policy. The inquiry made important recommendations for reducing the rate of stillbirth in Australia and improving support for parents. Many of the inquiry’s recommendations remain unimplemented and this national crisis requires more attention and action from the Government.

If you know someone who is grieving the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death please encourage them to contact one of the following organisations:

Kingston Croquet Club Visit

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Yesterday I visited the Kingston Croquet Club for the launch of their 2021 Croquet Calendar, the production of which has been assisted by my office.

Included in the photos below are committee members Patricia O’Neill, who came up with the idea of the calendar and Robbie Lee, who did the camera work.

A very welcoming, warm and friendly club! When you have to work on a weekend this is the most enjoyable kind of work you can do.

Lions Club of Kingborough Visit

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This morning I dropped in on the Lions Club of Kingborough to see their popular toy sale at Brookfield Shed.

I enjoyed having a chat with the Club members. I often assist the club with printing, prize donations, supporting their Anzac commemoration and sports day and promoting their events.

I’m happy to support a Club that does such great work in the Kingborough community and beyond.

The toy sale will be running from 10am-2pm today and over the coming weekend. All proceeds will go towards supporting people recovering from the 2020 Australian bushfire crisis.

Huonville Bike Collective Pilot Program

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Great to hear about the Risdon Vale Bike Collective’s plans to run a 12-month pilot of their program in Huonville with the generous support of the Obed Centre.

For many years the bike collective has been working with young Tasmanians to develop work and social skills, improve mental and physical health and build self-confidence.

They are also in discussions with potential partners to roll out the program to several other Tasmanian communities.

It was wonderful to hear their co-ordinator Ant Edler tell the stories of some of the young people whose lives have been transformed by this program.

South Arm Men’s Shed

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I recently gave a donation to assist the fundraising efforts for the establishment of a new men’s shed at South Arm. Today I met with some of the 50+ members who are driving this project, along with my colleague Alison Standen MP, to discuss other ways we can assist them to get the shed started.

The photo below was taken at the proposed site of the shed. Julie Collins MP and David O’Byrne MP also made contributions towards the project but unfortunately had to send their apologies for the meeting.

Thanks to the South Arm Peninsula Residents Association Inc for also supporting this wonderful project.

The men’s shed movement started as a way of improving men’s health by helping them open up about their issues in an environment where they feel comfortable doing so. I know from visiting several other sheds that they can be life-changing, and in some cases life-saving.

Reconciliation Action Plan

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I have recently volunteered to be one of the Australian Labor Party‘s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) champions.

In preparation for this role, I joined a very informative cultural learning webinar with Northern Territory parliamentarian Karl Hampton MLA on the role of Walpiri cultural business in his life. Thank you, Karl, for your time and the knowledge you imparted.

I am looking forward to my role as a RAP champion and seeing what contribution I can make to progressing reconciliation with First Nations people.

NILS Network of Tasmania partnership

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Since announcing that my office has become a NILS Network of Tasmania delivery partner we have been inundated with requests for appointments.

As a delivery partner we can help low income Tasmanians apply for a no-interest loan to buy educational equipment, buy essential housholds items, repair a vehicle, meet the costs of relocation after family violence or start a microbusiness.

This service is delivered by my friendly employee, Renée. To make an appointment call Renée on (03) 6229 4444 or email Renee.Toigo@aph.gov.au.

For more information about what a NILS loan can do for you visit NILS Tasmania’s website.

Huon Highway Traffic Noise

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A big thank you to the Kingston residents who met with me to discuss their concerns about the traffic noise impacting them from the Huon Highway following the upgrade of the Huon Highway/Summerleas Road intersection.

Residents told me that raising the level of the highway has resulted in unbearable traffic noise at peak times and in the early hours of the morning.

While this project received Federal funding, the design of the intersection is up to the Tasmanian Government. I will be writing to the Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael Ferguson, to urge the Government to install acoustic barriers along the highway.

World Haemochromatosis Week

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This week (1-7 June 2020) is World Haemochromatosis Week. Many people may not have heard of haemochromatosis, but it is important for all of us to be aware of Australia’s most common genetic disorder.

Some facts about haemochromatosis:

  • 1 in 200 Australians of European origin carry the genetic risk for haemochromatosis.
  • The condition is also known as ‘inherited iron overload disorder’ and causes your body to store too much iron.
  • Initial symptoms can include muscle pain and fatigue.
  • If left untreated, it can lead to more serious symptoms including organ failure!
  • Your iron levels and the genetic risk for haemochromatosis can both be checked by a simple blood test.
  • Haemochromatosis is treated by venesection (bloodletting) and the blood from therapeutic venesection can be donated subject to Australian Red Cross Lifeblood’s usual safety requirements.

This last dot point is timely with the approach of World Blood Donor Day on Sunday, 14 June.

Further information about hemochromatosis is available at Haemochromatosis Australia’s website.

ANZAC Day 2020

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As the sun rose this morning, like thousands of other Australians I stood in my driveway to #LightUptheDawn and honour our ex-servicemen and women in war, peacekeeping and peacemaking operations, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Lest we forget.

Public Service Announcement

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To minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 I will be putting the following measures in place until further notice:

  • From Monday, 23 March only two staff will be working in my office at any given time. Other staff will be working from home.
  • Staffing restrictions may cause a delay to community printing requests. If you email a printing request to Leanne please also Cc Daniel (daniel.hulme@aph.gov.au).
  • No events or meetings will take place in the office board room.
  • No constituents will be allowed beyond the reception area unless specifically authorised by me. Anyone given permission to enter the office will be asked to sanitise their hands before and after entering.

While I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, these measures are in place to protect the health and safety of my staff and the general public. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Just for a reminder – here are some basic steps you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases (see image below).

Riveaux Road Bushfire Memorial Opening

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I joined my Parliamentary colleagues Julie Collins MP, David O’Byrne MP & Alison Standen MP and the Geeveston Fire Brigade today for the opening of the Riveaux Road Bushfire Memorial BBQ Area.

Federal Labor Member for Franklin Julie Collins assisted the Brigade in securing a grant to allow the memorial to be built.

There was a delicious sausage sizzle, and an artist from Launceston donated two of her paintings which depicted the bushfire, recovery and hope.

The memorial is a wonderful tribute to the many amazing volunteers who helped fight the fire and provide assistance to people affected. During a crisis like the 2018-19 Tamanian Fire Season, we rely on people like the volunteers of the Geeveston Fire Brigade who are willing to spend time away from their jobs, businesses and loved ones to keep our community safe. I cannot thank them enough for their service and sacrifice.

Men with Heart Exhibition

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Last night’s Men with Heart Exhibition featured the stories of men through photography and video. It showed a positive expression of masculinity, and the potential of men to contribute to a safe, strong and resilient community.

It was a pleasure to meet Karadi Aboriginal Corporation’s Mens Program Co-ordinator Michael Paxton, who was featured in the exhibition.

Congratulations to Tasmen – Mens Wellbeing and Project Manager Anthony Burrows on a successful exhibition and thank you for inviting me.

Cuts to community services funding

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Thank you to Lyndon Stevenson from Community Transport Services Tasmania for coming to visit me to discuss impending cuts to Equal Remuneration Order supplementation.

An Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) can be made to ensure men and women receive equal pay for work of comparable value. In 2012, Fair Work Australia made an ERO in respect of the Social and Community Services award. The Commonwealth, state and territory governments all increased funding to community services to take account of the increased pay rates under the order.

ERO supplementation in Commonwealth grants is due to cease on 1 July 2021. Unless the Government extends this funding, organisations like CTST will be forced to reduce the services that vulnerable Australians rely on.

I asked questions in Senate Estimates about how community services will be impacted by this cut and I am expecting detailed answers to be provided on notice.

Seafood Industry Australia Pledge

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Tonight Senator Carol Brown and I signed the pledge committing to putting the best Australian seafood on our table.

It is important we do this in a way that actively cares for Australia’s oceans and environment and work with others to do the same.

Australia Day 2020

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Every year on Australia Day I like to spend the day acknowledging and celebrating what is great about our country.

This morning I attended Kingborough Council’s citizenship ceremony where I had the honour of reading the oath affirmation and Minister’s message. It gives me a great sense of pride that so many migrants choose to call Australia home, and that in doing so they contribute so much to our already rich cultural diversity.

The rest of the day was spent at A Day on the Beach where I held a stall, had great conversations about local issues and judged the sandcastle competition with Alison Standen MP and Helen from First National Real Estate. I am proud to have served as Patron of this event for about 10 years now. A Day on the Beach is a fitting celebration of sport, the community and the Australian way of life and I am pleased to see its continued success.

I wish everyone a happy Australia Day!

With Ukrainian Greetings, a history of the Ukranian Community in Tasmania

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Last night I had the honour of launching a new historical publication on the Association of Ukrainians in Tasmania. The coffee table book “With Ukrainian Greetings, a history of the Ukranian Community in Tasmania” is a magnificent celebration of Ukrainian culture.

The launch was a culmination of over 18 months of research, capturing stories and memories, translating, writing and reviewing by a dedicated team of volunteers very ably lead by Association President, Marina Ladaniwskyj.

“With Ukrainian Greetings” captures the history of settlement in Tasmania of a wave of Ukrainian individuals and families displaced by WWII. It’s the story of how these refugees through courage, hard work and determination for a better life, especially for their children, created a new identity and sense of belonging in a country that was peaceful and free, as Australians who were Ukrainian.

The Zahrava Ukrainian Youth Dance Ensemble provided the colour and movement at the launch with a wonderful display of Ukrainian song and dance, while the Association’s own choir sang beautiful traditional Ukrainian songs.

I am humbled by the very warm welcome given to me by all members of the Ukrainian community present last night, a night that will live long in my memory, not only because of the terrific entertainment, but because of the connection, the love and the warmth that community members clearly show for each other.

Shchyro dyakuyu to all involved.

Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum Canberra 2020

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The Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) brings together national parliamentarians from across the Asia-Pacific region to encourage and promote regional co-operation on matters of common concern to member countries.

The 28th meeting of the APPF is being held this year at our own National Parliament in Canberra (Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum Canberra 2020).

As part of the Australian delegation, I was pleased to address the conference in support of Australia’s resolution on promoting cultural diversity and tourism.

I have enjoyed meeting other delegates from across the Asia-Pacific, discussing our shared interests, concerns and aspirations for the region, and helping further develop inter-country relations.