Mr MARKHAM (Wollongong—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.00 p.m.]: This is the first opportunity I have had to bring to the attention of the House the annual general meeting of the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation, which I attended on Monday 11 December 2000 at 10.30 a.m. The Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation is situated in the Coomaditchie Village on the Port Kembla side of Warrawong. It has been active for many years. Over the years I have attended a number of annual general meetings. Lorraine Brown, chairperson of the corporation, and her sister Narelle Thomas, the Treasurer, are both incredible artists. Roy Kennedy was elected secretary and publicity officer, and the committee members are Darryl Brown, Albert Davis, Janice Pender, Cyril (Sonny) Brown, Iriaka Ross, Debbie Apps, Angela Walton, Sylvia Campbell, Corale Pombo and Linda Cruse.
Over the years those people have done incredible work. They have rejuvenated the area of Coomaditchie and the lagoon, which is important in the Illawarra district. Some of the activities and achievements of the corporation over the past 12 months include a bush regeneration project in which native seeds were collected from indigenous plants within the area and replanted along the sand dunes behind Port Kembla beach. Another important project involves improving the water quality for Coomaditchie lagoon. Anyone who visits that area will see the wonderful bird life and extraordinary waterfowl.
Mr Slack-Smith: Can you eat them?
Mr MARKHAM: I am not a National Party member. I do not eat them.
Mr Slack-Smith: Or shoot them.
Mr MARKHAM: Or shoot them, for that matter. The corporation also has a land care and community education project which involves taking schoolchildren to the walking trail it has built. I often refer to it as a real outdoor learning area because it gives young people an opportunity to meet with Aboriginal people and listen to what they have to say and to watch what they do. Another major project involves the regeneration of a seabird habitat on Five Islands, which is off the coast of Wollongong and Port Kembla. The corporation has done tremendous work in removing noxious weeds and introducing vegetation to ensure that the habitat returns to its original state.
Lorraine and Narelle, being talented artists, were given the job by Wollongong council of painting a dreaming mural, which they called "Blue Dreaming." The mural is located on the side of a building at Belmore Basin and all visitors to Wollongong are able to view it. The mural depicts how Aboriginal people visualise the sea and the importance of the sea and life within the sea to Aboriginal people of the Illawarra, particularly Wollongong. The Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation has established a horticultural training program in co-operation with the TAFE college. That program ensures that young people who work for the CDEP program have a good understanding of horticulture.
The community education project has been a wonderful initiative and hundreds of members of the Illawarra community have attended land care and Aboriginal culture awareness sessions at Coomaditchie. It is important to remember that those people have come from the local TAFE, schools and universities. At long last funding has been secured from the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning to employ staff to co-ordinate and administer the activities of the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation. That funding will sustain the project for four years.
Private members' statements noted.