Delivered in the Federation Chamber
I take this opportunity to mention a number of events and initiatives that have been occurring in the Greenway electorate over the past few weeks that speak volumes about our community, about our people and about the spirit that is alive and well in west and north-west Sydney.
The first of these is an event that recently I had the pleasure of attending in Blacktown. It was called—and indeed was—a supercitizenship ceremony. It was 'super' because there were 1,500 citizenship recipients on this occasion, becoming Australians by choice. As members of parliament, probably one of the most poignant opportunities that we enjoy is to be there on a most auspicious day in the life of individuals who were not born here and who do the greatest honour to Australia and our people by deciding to become Australian citizens.
Just looking out over that crowd that was there at Blacktown Leisure Centre—expertly organised by Blacktown City Council, and a big shout-out to Kevin Poilly and his team who put that together—there were clearly people from every corner of the globe. There were well over 100 languages and nationalities represented at this citizenship ceremony. It fills us with great hope that each of these new citizens will make a tremendous contribution to our local area. I particularly note the families who were there to support them and the children who became Australian citizens. I want to acknowledge them all today and again offer a very sincere welcome to our nation's family and in particular to the city of Blacktown.
In a different tone, I want to mention the residents and local activists who form the Homicide Victims Support Group. It was truly an honour to attend the official sod-turning for an initiative called Grace's Place. It's an innovative residential and counselling facility particularly for children who have been traumatised by homicide. It's named after Grace Lynch, the late mother of Anita Cobby. The Grace's Place organisation is headed as patron by Anita's amazing sister, Kathryn. Grace's Place is going to play a pivotal role in helping to heal and support children who are experiencing what can only be described as unimaginable pain.
I have become deeply affected by the senseless murder of Anita Cobby in 1986. She was taken from a spot in Blacktown, near Blacktown railway station, where I would wait for my bus to go home from school. Her senseless murder was an absolute abomination. It's only been in recent years that the community of Blacktown have, I believe, started to come to terms with that senseless violent act and really started to turn our minds to how we can work towards something good in future. Grace's Place is one of those things.
There have been very generous contributions that have got us to this point with Grace's Place. They include contributions from Blacktown City Council and the Western Sydney Parklands Trust, who by a lease arrangement between them are providing land for that. I encourage everyone to consider supporting the annual Anita Cobby Memorial Dinner, which is on 23 November this year at Blacktown Workers Club. Blacktown Workers Club is one of those local organisations that are doing their utmost to support initiatives such as this.
One of the most poignant events of the sod-turning was PolAir doing a flyover in honour. I want to acknowledge all the police and law enforcement people who were there, particularly those who were involved in the investigation around Anita Cobby. I don't want to single anyone out, but Gary Raymond was a hero of the Granville train disaster and one of the lead people involved in the investigation. He maintains such a deep interest in that today.
I also want to acknowledge Maryam Popal Zahid, who is Blacktown's Woman of the Year. I had the great pleasure of attending her play The Good Woman, exploring her experiences as an Afghan refugee to Australia. It was held at the Blacktown Arts Centre. I was expecting it to be thought provoking, but I wasn't expecting to be so entertained. I want to congratulate Maryam on a fantastic play, and everyone who enjoyed it would do the same.