Travel Industry, Community Services and NAIDOC Week

11 November 2020

I rise to raise the plight of travel agents in my community. I was contacted by Connie from Casula Travel Services in late May. Connie's travel business has been operating successfully since September 1990—that's 30 years—but due to border closures and no international flights Connie's income has all but ceased. She was hoping that the budget might've brought some good news, as it did for other industries hit hard by COVID, but there's nothing in this budget for her business. While executives and shareholders benefit from JobKeeper, small businesses like Casula Travel Services have been forgotten. I wrote to the Treasurer about Connie's plight and that of other travel agents in my electorate back in May. I'm still awaiting a response. Connie deserves better. Aviation workers deserve better. The government needs to find a solution and do it now.

Just as libraries are places where you go to borrow a book, the local leisure centre is no longer just the pools. They are important public spaces and community hubs. Nutrition courses, health advice, creches, physical rehab and community events are all part and parcel of today's modern recreation centre. As the research becomes ever more conclusive on the link between our physical and mental health, our individual health and the health of our communities, leisure and recreation centres are becoming community hubs with wellbeing at their core. I recently had the pleasure of visiting three such centres in my region owned by Liverpool City Council and operated by Belgravia Leisure: the Whitlam Leisure Centre in Liverpool, Michael Wenden Aquatic Leisure Centre in Miller and the Michael Clarke Recreation Centre at Carnes Hill. They each have a range of facilities, programs and staff that cater to the different demographics and respective community needs. I'd like to thank Gordon and Scott from Belgravia, who took the time to show me around and speak about some of the important programs they are running and supporting. One such program they are supporting is a local Indigenous men's group. Without doubt, the highlight of the tour was being invited to sit with this group, who were meeting at the time I was there. The group meets on a weekly basis to share their highs and lows. It was an honour and a privilege to join them. Thank you to Merv and the rest of the group for allowing me to share some of my stories with you.

I also note that this week is NAIDOC Week. Originally scheduled for earlier this year, like so many other things NAIDOC has been impacted by COVID-19. I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Indigenous people and organisations who live and work in Werriwa—in particular, Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council. I'd like to give my thanks to both the board of this organisation and their CEO, Melissa Williams, because they were such gracious hosts when I visited them. Keep up the good work. I note that this always was and always will be Aboriginal land.