23 March 2021
In my electorate of Lilley, the mighty Aspley State School runs a fantastic program with the Geebung RSL subbranch. It's called Stories of Service, where grade 6 students are buddied up with local veterans. Students interview veterans about their service and write a biography to present to them.
For the students it was a bonding experience with the veterans. Many of them were blown away by the exciting tales of young men and women who weren't that much older than themselves when they served their country. It was also a cathartic experience for many of the veterans, who hadn't stopped to reflect on some of their fondest memories in a very long time.
It is my honour to share with the Chamber today a few brief excerpts of their stories. Hannah and Mahi were paired with Evelyn Radford. Hannah and Mahi wrote:
Evelyn remembered her first few days in service like the back of her hand. She went in on a Tuesday, received her uniform, signed some papers and was asked if she would be available next Tuesday to start work. Evelyn was then sent out to a camp at Shoalwater for sixteen days. She didn't find it as hard as she thought it would be; however she did have to get used to sleeping and eating and overall doing things the way they did.
Dylan was paired with Barbara Dawson, who's a well-known identity on the north side. Dylan wrote:
When Barbara first applied to serve, she learned no women were required. Several years later, opportunities opened to enlist. Barbara didn't hesitate to sign up! Enlisting in the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps in 1952 at 18 years of age, Barbara completed 'rookie' induction and services training in Victoria and was then posted to Brisbane. The people she met during these years were important to Barbara. Many of the friendships she made then are still sustained to this day.
Angus and Raphael paired with Fred Huntley. Angus and Raphael wrote:
Fred was a normal kid in the Depression and was the oldest in the family of 3, which was poor. The Great Depression was when all the banks were bankrupt and 80% of the population were unemployed. He was born in a time that everything was a lot cheaper, like a loaf of bread was 5c and now it's $3. Fred joined the air force on 20th of November 1954 and left the service on 8th of May 1999. There were many jobs that Fred did during his time in service, including a demolition instructor, ground defence and weapon instructor.
I would like to congratulate Hannah, Mahi, Dylan, Angus and Raphael and all the students at Aspley State School for their fantastic veterans' biographies. I would like to thank the Geebung RSL sub-branch for their contribution to this and so many other initiatives in our community. I also commend Aspley State School principal Leann Griffith-Baker for developing a fantastic community program in her school.
With my remaining time, may I say that I was very proud to be part of the protest calling for a royal commission into veteran suicide earlier this week. I am so pleased that this place will be moving forward on that, due to lobbying from mothers like Julie-Ann Finney, from veterans from both sides and from the Labor Party.