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The Dallas Neighbourhood House in Broadmeadows provides a wonderful Food Parcel Program, an important initiative in my electorate of Calwell. The Food Parcel Program is run by a team of volunteers, who sort up to 65 bags and food items in each delivery. In 2018, the volunteers had prepared and gave away over 3000 parcels.

Financial counselling can have an enormous impact on the lives of my constituents experiencing financial difficulties and today I got to see that first hand through the 'Day in the Life' Project. I was given an opportunity to meet with the financial counsellors at Uniting Vic Tas who talked me through the services they provide and meet with constituents who were struggling with financial difficulties and the stressful impact this has on their life. 

Above: Meeting the team - with the financial counsellors from Uniting Vic Tas. 

We discussed the main challenges my constituents face who struggle with debt, and they talked me through their role in providing this important service. 

The financial counselling service supports people on low incomes and those experiencing financial difficulties to achieve financial security and independence. The service is free of charge and counsellors are bound by law to keep matters relating to finances confidential. 

As you know, a Federal election will be held within the next few months, and the ALP has a  real chance of winning. 

We have an opportunity to finally end a government of chaos and division, of low wages and savage cuts to penalty rates, of tax breaks to big companies and reluctance to make big banks accountable, of climate change denial and inaction on energy security.  

We still need to work hard as a team to ensure victory for Labor, for a better and fairer Australia. And we need your help!

GPAN is a youth led project at Banksia Gardens working towards the prevention of violence against women in my electorate. GPAN recently launched the inaugural Eurydice Dixon Gender Equality Champions Award, to celebrate young leaders working toward gender equity in the community.

 

I'm excited to announce two new youth projects being initiated in the Calwell electorate that are open to local 16 - 25 year olds. The first is Calwell Youth, an online publication platform for young people to write articles, and the second is a committee position on the 2019 Calwell Youth Committee. More information about these projects can be found below for those interested, with article submissions for Calwell Youth and expression of interests for the Youth Committee now open.

I've been passionate about gender equality since I was old enough to realise I was a woman, a girl. And I'm also the mother of a daughter, and I've spent most of my life trying to encourage and mentor young women.

As a woman, growing up with a migrant background, I've had to learn that overcoming gender stereotypes were very important to my ability to progress and develop to the fullest of my potential. 

Kylee Bates, CEO of Ardoch Youth Foundation visited me in my office today sand told me about the fantastic work the organisation is doing in linking volunteer classroom helpers and mentors with schools and students.  Ardoch works alongside schools and teachers to help young people – from pre-school to secondary school – gain greater confidence in reading, numeracy, learning generally, and life opportunities. Ardoch places screened and trained volunteers into primary and secondary school classrooms at the request of partner schools to support the teachers.

Above: Kylee Bates, CEO of Ardoch Youth Foundation with Maria Vamvakinou MP. 

What a bunch of incredibly talented primary school students I have in my electorate! And I know this because of the entries my office received as part of my 2018 Christmas Card cover competition. The entries were so colourful, and impressive, I couldn’t decide on one winner – so I picked two.

I’d like to congratulate Aaron Alescio from Jacana School for Autism and Sarah El Hassan from Greenvale Primary school whose creative pieces both made it on the cover my 2018 Christmas cards that are currently being sent throughout the electorate.

Above: Aaron Alescio with his classmates at Jacana School For Autism