HOTELS HAVE HEARTS GALA DINNER
The Hon. MARIE FICARRA
(Parliamentary Secretary) [3.53 p.m.]: It gives me great pleasure to speak before this House on the outstanding success of the tenth annual Hotels Have Hearts gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel Sydney on Tuesday 29 May 2012. It is an initiative of the New South Wales hotels industry and was attended by more than 600 people. The gala was held in support of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, a special initiative of the St Vincent de Paul Society. Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, Australia's largest provider of homeless services, is committed to providing vital support services for men, women, children and their families who are homeless or disadvantaged or who may potentially become homeless. These include 13 services for single homeless men, including the Matthew Talbot Hostel, which daily provides for 100 men including 80 outreach beds. The society also has 10 services specifically directed towards helping women and children.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is committed to educating men and women to help break the cycle of homelessness and, at times, the associated domestic violence. The Ozanam Education Centre, an initiative of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, opened in 2008 and offers a range of education programs, recreation activities, a drop-in day centre and an extensive information and referral service in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment. In partnership with TAFE NSW a range of vocational and educational courses is offered, including Creative Digital Media, Adult Learning and Teaching for Sustainability, and Basic Music Production.
The Hotels Have Hearts gala fundraising events first began in 2002 and since then have funded outstanding services that have helped those who are most disadvantaged. The tradition of people's generous donations—many are hoteliers and business and community leaders with big hearts—has enabled the continuing improvement to services that support those who need them most. The money raised has had a life-changing impact on countless individuals and families. The first event in 2002 funded the Homereach service, the forerunner to the current Community Support Team. From 2004 to 2006 the donations helped fund improvements to the Matthew Talbot Hostel Clinic, such as medical consultation rooms and equipment. Donations in 2007 provided a training kitchen, computer laboratory and art studio at the Matthew Talbot Hostel helping to reintroduce people to their communities. Other improvements over the years include the refurbishing to the rooftop of Vincentian House's recreation and garden space as part of the women's and families services. The 2010 event funded new programs for the Ozanam Learning Centre and a music studio, art room, and TAFE classes.
I acknowledge and give special thanks to the many people who worked endlessly to ensure the success of this event, including all the members of the Australian Hotels Association and the Hotels Have Hearts committee—chairperson Kim Maloney, Brother Dan Stafford, C.Ss.R., Jenny Farrell, John Lucas, John Ryan, Martin Short, and Stephen Harvey. Moreover, I thank Tim Webster, our generous host for the evening, His Excellency the Hon. Sir William Deane, AC, KBE, Patron of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, the speakers, the Hon. Barry O'Farrell, Premier of New South Wales, Scott Leach, President of the Australian Hotels Association, New South Wales, and especially Megan, a former Vincentian House resident who tugged at our heart strings with recollections of how she and her young family found themselves homeless and on the streets. Through the love of Vinnies staff and volunteers she has rebuilt her life, gained tertiary qualifications and educated her children.
I also acknowledge auctioneer James Keenan, Mikey Robins for providing his enthusiastic entertainment, and Paul Nicolaou, chief executive officer of the Australian Hotels Association, New South Wales, for the heartfelt passion he injects into these wonderful fundraising events. I place on record the wonderful efforts of New South Wales hotels in donating $25 million to the community annually and their support of 40,000 sporting, community and religious organisations. Importantly, I express my deep appreciation and gratitude to Beverley Kerr, President of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, all the members, employees, and volunteers of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services and the St Vincent de Paul Society, all the sponsors and everyone who played a part of making the 2012 Hotels Have Hearts gala dinner such a success.
The record $470,000 raised will be invested in countless lives of those disadvantaged and provide them with opportunities to better themselves, their families and their communities. Over the past 10 years Hotels Have Hearts has raised well over $2.47 million. It is this great generosity of our community I wish to recognise along with the vital services Matthew Talbot Homeless Services provides, and I give my sincerest thanks to them.