Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ku-ring-gai Australia Day Awards

Alister attending a local Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) [6.06 p.m.]: "Hero" is a frequently used word in the English language. It is too often used to describe sporting prowess and so rarely used to acknowledge selfless feats of personal sacrifice. That is why I have always taken an interest in the announcement of the community and national award winners on Australia Day. On Australia Day we recognise people who often are not recognised outside of their family and friends—in other words, the quiet achievers. Whether through decades of community service, medical research or service to the arts, the military, the public or people with disability, the community owes them a great deal of gratitude.

On Australia Day this year I was fortunate to be able to rub shoulders with some of these local heroes at a ceremony at Bi-centennial Park at West Pymble in the Ku-ring-gai electorate. In the hustle and bustle of life we do not have time to smell the roses. We buzz around our suburbs in our cars and do not even know or simply forget about some of the beautiful places around us. Many of us will know and frequently cross a rail overpass on the Pacific Highway at Turramurra. But many of us may not have noticed the beautiful garden beside the bridge and railway line on the south side of the highway. I have seen people congregate there on Saturday mornings as I drive to my son's sporting events curious about what is going on.

It is the location of the Turramurra Lookout community garden, a quaint slice of paradise in our ever-growing city. It has led to John Dailey being named Ku-ring-gai Citizen of the Year. I am informed John Dailey is a 43-year resident of the suburb and the driving force behind the community garden. He is the man who helps organise the 50 or so volunteers from a whole host of community organisations who keep the garden going. I am happy to be taking up John's invitation to meet and have morning tea with his group this Saturday. What John does is so much more than help to maintain a garden for the rest of us to enjoy. He is the conduit between community groups, local schools and residents who are happy to lend a hand and learn about gardening from each other in the process.

Another fine local group of volunteers is the Ku-ring-gai Shed. The Ku-ring-gai Shed, formerly and more informally referred to as the Men's Shed, is a worthy recipient of the Outstanding Service to the Community award. I had the pleasure of visiting the shed at St Ives Showground last year in my first year as the member for Ku-ring-gai and was most impressed by the sense of community and mateship that exists there. In a time when there is a growing awareness of mental illness and depression, the shed is a much-needed tonic to loneliness. Some of the 200 registered members have lost their life partners and the companionship they find at the shed is priceless in tough times.

I am pleased to see that the talent pool in Ku-ring-gai is so strong that the judges could not decide between the finalists in the Young Citizen of the Year category. This year the honour has gone to two winners. Nick Bennett from Gordon has been a member of the scouting movement since he was six and last year, at just 18 years of age, he became the youngest ever Australian to serve as Assistant Contingent Leader for the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Japan. Nick has achieved the highest awards in scouting for his age. A surf lifesaver, an accomplished classical musician, a fundraiser for CareFlight and an Indigenous mentor, he is a thoroughly deserving recipient of the Young Citizen of the Year award.

Another Gordon resident, Ashlee Jaensch, is also a thoroughly deserving recipient. Ashlee was awarded joint Young Citizen of the Year for her voluntary work with such groups as Rotary and through her work with the Rural Health Student Network. She also spends her personal time travelling to Granville Boys High School to provide support to Pacific Islander students. Congratulations Ashlee, you no doubt have a big future ahead of you. I also pay tribute to the national recipients of Australia Day honours who live in my electorate of Ku-ring-gai. Michael Keats from Pymble now has the letters "OAM" after his name for his contributions to the bushwalking movement and as an author. Michael is not one to walk out of the bush, wherever it may be, without chronicling every detail in words and photographs so that others may enjoy their experiences as he does.

The Medal of the Order of Australia [OAM] was awarded to Killara's Arthur Brawn in recognition of his service to community, in particular to Rotary International, of which he has been a member since 1984. There is none more deserving of an OAM than Lady Joyce Beattie from Warrawee. Lady Joyce, who has been a member of Warrawee Bowling Club—just around the corner from my electorate office—since 1956 has not kept her love of bowls to herself; rather, she has shared it with others, in particular those with disabilities. Just a year after joining the club Lady Joyce founded the Therapy Bowling Program to help the rehabilitation of people with disabilities through outdoor activities. Congratulations to each of these outstanding Ku-ring-gai citizens on their contributions to our community.