Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (7.00 pm): The Gympie community punches above its weight when it comes to volunteering and giving back to our community. Just how deep the commitment of many locals is was brought home on Australia Day. Three of our own—Marlene Owens, Chris Lhotka and Wayne Sachs—were honoured by our nation in recognition of their service. Marlene and Chris were both awarded an Order of Australia Medal and Wayne received the Ambulance Service Medal. They are remarkable achievements which deservingly elevates them to membership of a select group of Australians who have been recognised for outstanding achievements and services to their community.
Marlene was recognised for her extensive volunteer work across the community. She is a robust advocate and fundraiser for many community and not-for-profit organisations and an extremely dedicated and fierce campaigner for community groups and causes. Marlene’s relentless drive to help plug holes in services which are underfunded or unavailable in the Gympie region are well regarded.
Despite her own health challenges, Marlene continually puts others before herself. Her fundraising efforts are without fear or favour. Organisations know that with her on their side, they have a tireless hard worker who has an amazing ability to attract and garner support. Marlene is a wonderful example of the values of humility, genuineness and selflessness.
Chris was recognised for his service to the Widgee community through active involvement in the local rural fire brigade. His involvement has spanned more than 35 years, including 10 years as chairman, and now as the brigade’s voluntary community education officer. He is also known as a fierce campaigner and robust advocate for the Gympie region. Recent bushfire events have shown the rest of Australia what we already know, that regional communities like Gympie rely on volunteers like Chris.
Wayne Sachs, another fierce campaigner, was recognised for his distinguished and outstanding service to Australia’s ambulance organisations. Wayne has served a 46-year career as an ambulance officer, including 25 years as Gympie station’s officer in charge and as a voluntary divisional paramedic for St John’s Ambulance, Gympie Combined Division. His impressive career as an ambulance officer is only the tip of the iceberg of Wayne’s community service. As a councillor on the Cooloola Shire and then the Gympie Regional Council, he was instrumental in promoting the Bruce Highway upgrade to make it safer. He has actively supported organisations such as the Gympie and District Historical Society, Gympie Local Disaster Management Group, Gympie Senior Citizens Association, Gympie Meals on Wheels and the Gympie Health Community Council.
Marlene, Chris and Wayne should be proud of their achievements. Gympie is proud and lucky to count them as one of us.