GOING OFF AT THE SWAMP FAMILY FESTIVAL
Mr GARRY EDWARDS
(Swansea) [12.44 p.m.]: Today I speak about the Going Off At The Swamp—more commonly referred to locally as "GOATS"—Family Festival. The festival is an initiative of the San Remo Neighbourhood Centre and is the brainchild of Jillian Hogan, better known throughout the community as "Mother Goat". The aim of the festival is to celebrate the talents of young people and to bring together youth and families for an enjoyable day out. The decision to combine young people and families was integral from the very first event. Young people are sometimes perceived as being separate from families and community rather than being part of a family and integral to community life. The three aspects of supporting young people's talents—a drug- and alcohol-free environment that includes families and the community in the mix—are the foundations that have been built upon and have led to the growth and success of the GOATS Family Festival over 14 years.
This year my team and I experienced our first GOATS festival. We set up a mobile office and were pleased to see a huge crowd of more than 12,000 visitors enjoying entertainment from 45 bands and performers spread across three stages, covering every genre of music. Some 36 community organisations also attended the event and there were 21 local market stalls, art and literacy competitions, rides, animals and roaming entertainers. Although the event has put San Remo on the map, and certainly on the calendar for many Central Coast residents, it is the festival's achievements in other areas that have encouraged me to speak about it today in the Chamber. The San Remo Neighbourhood Centre staff first conceived the idea of a festival that promotes the positive behaviour of young people rather than an event that reinforces the negative perception of young people at youth events where alcohol and illicit drugs are involved.
The first GOATS festival was held at Lake Munmorah and featured two bands playing on the back of a truck. Only 200 people attended that first event, but today the festival is a major regional event that attracts visitors from other cities and States. Visitors from as far as Canberra and even Queensland came along to this year's event. I am told by the neighbourhood centre that there was not one incident of violence on the day, which is a testament not just to the organisers but to the community and to families. I congratulate the San Remo Neighbourhood Centre and the volunteers—too many to mention individually—on organising and coordinating such a successful event. There are also widespread benefits for the young people who get involved in organising the event. The planning phase of the festival involves the collaborative efforts of more than 100 volunteers of all ages. Those volunteers learn valuable life skills such as event management, marketing, publicity, public speaking, sound engineering and production in the lead-up to the event.
Volunteers are directly involved in stage management, emceeing, sponsorship drives, risk assessments, creating ground plans, script writing and crowd control. This level of input in such a major event is a fantastic learning experience for the many young people involved. Stallholders are able to sell their locally made merchandise, show bags and food, while groups, including the Lions Club, scouts, Girl Guides and Torchbearers, can attend with stalls to raise funds for their own community projects. Performers and musicians featured at GOATS can not only entertain a sizeable crowd but also gain widespread exposure for their work. Many bands and artists who have performed at the festival have gone on to enjoy far greater success. GOATS is more than an event; it is a training ground for young people, a social connector, a mentoring project, a motivational tool, a total support network, a community creativity pool and a most successful example of community collaboration. I ask the House to join me today in congratulating "Mother Goat" Jillian Hogan and all those involved with the Going Off At The Swamp Family Festival.
Mr DONALD PAGE
(Ballina—Minister for Local Government, and Minister for the North Coast) [12.48 p.m.]: I congratulate the member for Swansea and the San Remo Neighbourhood Centre on drawing attention to the wonderful Going Off At The Swamp [GOATS] Family Festival held recently. The objectives of the festival are admirable: bringing young people together to make them feel part of a family and of the community. It is encouraging to see that 36 community organisations attended the event. I commend the people involved in organising the GOATS Family Festival. It is obviously good for boosting a sense of inclusion in the community and good for the local economy.