Say G'Day in May

May 21, 2018

Since we were last in Canberra I've been walking and talking my way around the southside. I walked nearly 70 kilometres in six days around my electorate of Moreton. I walked from Eight Mile Plains to Sunnybank, Tarragindi to Salisbury, Moorooka to Acacia Ridge, Yeronga to Moorooka, Tennyson to Oxley, and Kuraby to Sunnybank, with a few other suburbs in between. I enjoyed meeting the people who don't often get the time to drop into their MP's office, the neighbours who are busy with their own lives and their families, those who are busy looking after others. Although I love walking, the purpose was to encourage locals to better engage with their community.

My Say G'day in May walk was inspired by the work of the late Jo Cox. Jo was a member of the United Kingdom parliament who worked tirelessly in her community to combat what she considered to be a growing epidemic: loneliness. We often think of loneliness as affecting the elderly, and it does, but it also affects every age demographic, and it is often in times of life transition that loneliness can strike. It can happen at times like leaving school or leaving home for the first time, becoming a parent or moving into retirement. The aim of my Say G'day in May campaign was to encourage people in my electorate to engage with and join their community groups. So I asked locals to come and meet me and walk with me or to meet me for a coffee along the way or to come and check out a local community group, and they did.

I had some great company for my walks—locals like Anna, Reeta and Eric, who joined me for my walk from Tarragindi to Salisbury, and Midhat, who walked with me from Kuraby to Sunnybank, to name just a few. In fact, the Heart Foundation's CEO, Stephen Vines, joined me with part of his local walking group—Marion, Margaret and Billy—on the beautiful walk around the Corso at Yeronga. I stopped along the way to learn a few dance moves—very badly—from local dance groups at the Queensland Taiwan Centre in Sunnybank and at the Salisbury & District Senior Citizens Centre. I got a few practical and much-needed handyman tips from some men's sheds. I dropped into some art classes at Atelier Art Classes in Salisbury and Half Dozen Group of Artists in Sherwood. I was even tempted to try my hand at mahjong at the Cathay Community Association with a 96-year-old opponent. I marvelled at the wonderful people who spend their days caring for others, like the Westside Community Services, St David's Neighbourhood Centre, Cathay Community Association, Yeronga Community Plus, Braille House, Deaf Services Queensland and Cerebral Palsy League. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading to the class at Yeronga's Hyde Road kindy.

It's been a great experience. I've seen a lot, I've heard from many and I've learnt heaps, but the Say G'day in May campaign is not over yet. This Friday, 25 May, I'm hosting a community groups showcase at the Wellers Hill Bowls Club between 10 am and 12 noon. I've asked local community groups to come along and showcase what they do, where they do it and when they meet. Thirty community groups will be on show, so I've asked everyone in Moreton to come along. They're invited to come and meet these community groups to say g'day to their neighbours in May.