Women of the Year

6th March 2018

Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 12:40 ): Th is coming Thursday marks International Women's Day . Just down the road at the International Convention Centre , exceptional women from across this State will gather to celebrate with their peers and acknowledge the outstanding achievements of some.I a m ext remely proud to say that among that special group of women will be three from my electorate of Lake Macquarie who have been named as finalists in this year's Wom e n of the Year awards. I a m equally proud to say that I have known each of these women for many years and was delighted to be able to nominate them for their extraordinary contribut i ons. Andreena Kardamis is a finalist in the Young Woman of the Year category, Christine Mastello in the Community Hero section and Selena Archibald in the Aboriginal Wom an of the Year section.

Christine began her longstanding service to the community at just 13 years of age when she volunteered to collect donations for the Epilepsy Association at a local railway station. A couple of years later she decided to devote one day a month to taking underprivileged children to a local park, and a couple of years later she began visiting nursing homes just to talk to those residents who had no regular visitors. As well as being inv olved with established organisations, Christine has founded more than 15 groups that connect local people with others or with valuable community services such as a young parents' playgroup. Sheha s been involved with a youth suicide prevention group, a dom estic violence support group and Scouts, and she has been an active organiser of an annual Christmas party for children with special needs.

She has also found the time to work on a number of boards , including Northern Lakes Family Centre, Southlake Communi ty Services, Southlake Business Chamber and Community Alliance, Community Drug Action Team and Toukley Women's Refuge. She is an extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things, much like Andreena Kardamis , who m I have known since she was a young school stu dent on a clear path t o one day becoming a great leader, whether or not she recognised that fact .

I first met Andreena in 2010 when I was still Mayor of Lake Macquarie and she was selected as a youth councillor for the Lake Macquarie Youth Advisory Council. She has been representing her peers locally and abroad for much of the time since. She has been a youth member of Parliament for Lake Macquarie, shadow Y outh Attorney-General for the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, Youth Ambassador for Hunter Life Education and President of the Newcastle Law Students Association , and she has even travelled to Cambodia for the University Scholars Leadership Symposium.

She has juggled most of those roles while studying for a law degree at the University of Newcastle. Earlier this year she was named as Lake Macquarie's Citizen of the Year, having won the Young Citizen of the Year award only a few years ago. Award ceremonies do n o t get much attention in Andreena's life, though. She was unable to attend this year's Lake Macquarie cere mony because she i s currently serving a six-month posting in Bangkok as a youth advocate for the United Nations. There she is giving voice to the many young women around the world who have suffered, or are suffering, domestic violence.

Lake Macquarie's oth er finalist, Selena Archibald, is known to many people locally as Aunty, Mum or Ma. She is a much-admired educator who has been supporting students at Morisset High School since 1999. Selena was not just the founder of the I tji-Maru Aboriginal Resource Cen tre at Morisset High Schoolbut also a popular role model for Indigenous young people who in the past have struggled with modern-day life as well as their cultural identity. She helps these young people identify future goals and then creates educational an d cultural programs to help them get there. I know there were many tears shed at Morisset High School on the day that Selena's first group finished year 12 and obtained their Higher School Certificate. I have spoken to some of Selena's students over the years and they tell me how much they love and respect her and how she has been able to push them further than ever they felt they could go. One of those students went on to become Morisset High School's first ever Indigenous school captain.

On a personal note, I have always found Selena to be one of the people I trust to give me valuable advice on issues pertaining to the local Aboriginal community, and I greatly appreciate that. I am proud of these three women and all they have contributed to the Lake Macquarie community over many years. I am also grateful that we can now recognise and celebrate their achievements on a much bigger stage. Our community would be much poorer without these exceptional people. I congratulate them and I wish all the finalists well for the award ceremony on Thursday. I congratulate the Minister, Tanya Davies, and the Government for giving each and every member of this House the opportunity to recognise these wonderful contributions to our community.

Website: Read full Parliamentary debate

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