WOLLONDILLY "NIGHT OF NIGHTS" CONCERT
Mr JAI ROWELL
(Wollondilly) [7.26 p.m.]: Last weekend a very important event was held that demonstrated that community spirit is alive and well in Wollondilly. A memorial concert entitled "Night of Nights" was held on 5 May for the Dudas family. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Anna Dudas; however, I have been lucky to have met many people whose lives were touched by Anna. They include her beautiful children, loving parents and inspirational friends. Anna was a strong and passionate woman who would not rest without the assurance that her family would be cared for after her death. Unfortunately, Anna recently lost her fight with cancer—just before the concert. The concert continued Anna's legacy of ensuring the protection and support of her dear children. The community was united at the concert to pay respect and to celebrate the short but vibrant life of Anna, but also to show her children, Adrian, Tahlia, Ashton and Skye, that it was behind them and that they could turn to anyone for support.
The success of the night depended on many different factors that combined to create community spirit, leadership, dedication and selflessness. Dale Burridge, a valuable member of my electorate and a renowned stage show musical performer having appeared on the West End and in the Australian version of Phantom of the Opera
, was an integral part of the night's success. Dale had the pleasure of meeting Anna only days before her death and was inspired to make a difference and to help her family. This local man felt the need to make a difference in the lives of people who were in need. Although initially driven just to donate to Anna's cause, Dale soon realised that he wanted to do more than that and felt he really needed to make a difference. From those early days, Dale rallied support within the local community and his colleagues. Everyone got on board. Since that point Dale became the driving force behind the movement to support the Dudas family.
But Dale was not alone. A driving force behind the event was Brooke Hilton. Brooke has been a good friend of mine for some time and I have always held her in the highest regard. I was privileged to see her take on a task of such enormity and shine like never before. Brooke organised the venue, volunteers, sold VIP tables and organised the raffle, all with the poise and professionalism of a seasoned events manager. I believe Brooke succeeded not only because of her talents but because she genuinely cares about the community and the Dudas children. Brooke, you are a credit to yourself and your family, and our community is better because you choose to call Wollondilly home. Haley Harrington and her efforts also are worthy of mention as she never gave up in the face of overwhelming emotion to continue to piece together day by day an amazing concert that would do Anna justice. Haley was Anna's best friend and on the night she gave an emotional, but inspirational speech about her most loved friend. It is not enough to recognise just these individuals as it was the culmination of everyone's efforts that made the night such a success.
The community spirit that was evident as a result of these fundraising efforts was inspiring. I wish I were able to acknowledge and to thank every person for his or her contribution, but because of time constraints I am not able to do so. The communities of Wollondilly, Macarthur and Campbelltown came together to support and to lend a helping hand to a family that experienced one of the greatest hardships imaginable. I am extremely proud to know that I am part of a community that pulled together in hard times and demonstrated the value of lending a helping hand to both friends and strangers. It also was great to share a table with my great mate Russell Matheson, Federal member for Macarthur. The generosity of community members was evident in their donations of time, skills and money. This was demonstrated by the fact that people were happy to spread the word about the evening by telling their friends, putting up posters or selling tickets.
There were big donations from those who bought a number of tables. Campbelltown Catholic Club donated the venue. The combination of efforts, big and small, went a long way towards making a difference in the lives of the Dudas children. We can make a difference not just through spending money but also through providing moral support and lending a helping hand in the knowledge that people in the community will back us all the way. All these different ways of contributing demonstrate that community spirit is alive and well in Wollondilly. Many people sit back and think they cannot make a difference but the memorial concert for Anna Dudas proved we can all play a part. The event was so successful that in excess of 700 people attended on the night and played their part to help this family. Final figures are still being calculated. However, at the last count it was discovered that over $50,000 had been raised in one evening—a tremendous effort for a small community. However, if a small community has a big heart anything is possible.
Private members' statements concluded.