As the Federal Member for Calwell and the chair of the Parliamentary Australian Turkish Friendship group I welcome Mehmet Tillim to the Australian Parliament. Mehmet and I have been colleagues in the Australian Labor Party  for many years. In addition he is also a local constituent in my electorate of Calwell.

 I take great pride in welcoming him to the Federal Parliament as he assumes the senate position soon to be vacated by David Feeney.

In addition to being ALP colleagues Mehmet and I  share a common migrant background. We were both born overseas and came to Australia at a very young age. I came to parliament as the first  Greek born women, and Mehmet now  as the first Turkish born  member of parliament.  This is a significant result for both of us, who have both come from migrant, working class families. Mehmet’s appointment to the Senate is a reflection of the our communities integration into the broader Australian society.

Participation in the Australian political system is a privilege for us all, and a source of pride for our communities, families, neighbours and friends .

I look forward to working with Mehmet on issues that are relevant to people in the northern suburbs.



He is part of a team which has helped thousands of vulnerable Hume residents and now Mark Lazaric has been acknowledged nationally for his individual service to the community. Minister for Human Services Senator Kim Carr said Mark was one of just 20 staff to receive a Department of Human Service (DHS) Australia Day honour.

Today, together with the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport  Anthony Albanese  the new state-of-art fire training facility at Melbourne Airport was opened.

The $22 million Learning Academy Hot Fire Training Ground is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere and will combine aviation rescue and fire fighting training.The centrepiece of the new training ground is a full-sized mock-up aircraft fuselage over 56 metres long, 10 metres high and 29 metres wide, replicating sections from the Airbus A380 and Boeing 767 which will be used to simulate real-world fire fighting and rescue situations.

The Hume Local Advisory Group is seeking innovative ideas from not for profit organisations to increase social and economic participation in the
Hume Local Government Area.
Expressions of Interest should address the Hume Local Advisory Group’s priorities.
For detailed information about the initiative, there will be an information session conducted on Monday 12 November 2012 at the Global Learning Centre, Broadmeadows between 3.00pm. – 5.00pm. For information on the Hume Local Advisory Group priorities and the Expression of Interest form go to or contact your local Community Action Leader on 0408 715 616
Expressions of Interest close on 4 December 2012.

Workskil employment providers in Broadmeadows and Craigieburn will receive $1.4 ($1,439,272) million in Federal Government funding to employ 5 new personal helpers to work one-on-one with people with mental illness across  the electorate. The funding is aimed at enabling more people with severe mental illness, their families and carers greater access to support services and other practical assistance close to home.
Federal Member for Calwell Maria Vamvakinou said the Targeted Community Care Program (Personal Helpers and Mentors ) was part  of the Government’s record $2.2 billion national mental health reforms.
“The program is based on a practical approach to service the day- to- day needs of people with a disability. The personal helpers will focus on a  one-on- one approach to  help people with a disability  reconnect to health care, their communities and finding employment,” Ms Vamvakinou said
Nationwide this program has already been a big help to more than 21,000 Australians with severe mental illness, who are benefitting from practical assistance which helps them achieve their personal goals, participate more fully in the community, find jobs and  develop better relationships with family and friends.

Volunteers are important to the lives of residents in Calwell. They contribute to a socially inclusive society, and make a positive difference to those they help. Why don’t you nominate someone you know for the National Volunteer Awards?
Volunteer award categories include:
1. MP’s Volunteer of the Year
2. Junior Volunteer Award (17 and under)
3. Youth Volunteer Award (18-25)
4. Senior Volunteer Award (65 and over)
5. Business Volunteer Award
6. Education Award
7. Emergency Management Volunteer Award
8. Environment Award
9. Innovation in Volunteering Award (organisation or individual)
10. Long–term Commitment to Community Service Award.
Nominations close: 5pm ,8 November 2012


Creating and supporting jobs has always been a priority in Calwell. Having chaired the House  Standing Committee of Industry, Science and Innovation in the last parliament-and overseen 2 inquiries into Australia’s Research Capacity- I’m pleased with the Government’s  $1 billion dollar Plan for Australian Jobs. This package of reforms will help build our local manufacturing industry.

In its 2009/10 budget, the Labor Government delivered the most significant reforms to the pension system in its 100 year history. These historic reforms included unprecedented pension increases, a new consolidated pensioner supplement, better indexation and a pensioner work bonus. Since these reforms came into effect in September, they have delivered pension increases of $154 per fortnight for singles on the maximum rate and $156 per fortnight for maximum rate pensioner couples. And now, the Federal Labor Government is giving pensioners another payment boost through our household assistance package, with one-off payments of $250 for single pensioners and $190 for each member of a pensioner couple, already paid in June 2012.