PARLIAMENT HOUSE, Canberra: A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of joining many of the more disadvantaged residents of my electorate for a meal which was being put on by Foothills Community Care. This is a church-based organisation that runs a program called the Mountain Gates Meals Night. Every Tuesday night it provides about 40 meals for people who are basically very isolated and very lonely and often struggle to afford to feed themselves. It is a terrific program that they put on. I went there and joined 30 or 40 people having a meal. It was actually quite joyous. People were happy. They were pleased to be there and connect with others. For some, I think, it was one of the main forms of connection with others that they have.
I commend the organisers of the Mountain Gate Meals Night for putting this on. They do so voluntarily without any government assistance. I particularly commend Reverend Steve Barrington, the program director, Andy Philips, and the coordinators, Donna Krenn and Greg Krenn, for the work that they do in this regard.
My electorate is blessed with fantastic local community organisations such as this one. Many are church based, but many are not. They provide tremendous support and service to people in need. They provide the types of things which the nation state can never provide here from Canberra. We as parliamentarians should always support such organisations and do what we can to give them whatever assistance that we can.
Of course, these organisations create tremendous community spirit, as well as serving the need. The volunteers go there to serve those people in need but they serve not only the people in immediate need but also the broader community. Sometimes we bemoan the fact that we are becoming a consumer society, but what we actually do know is that real happiness and satisfaction comes from the relationships that we form and from service to others. This is a terrific example of that.