Mr PURCELL (Western Victoria) (10:04:30) — Last night the Moyne and Warrnambool region's young people were the focus of the evening at the youth achiever awards. More than 120 nominees, ranging in age between 13 and 18, took to the stage, all vying for the top spots. Monique Jones and Jace Nepean won the Warrnambool Overall Youth Achiever of the Year award, while siblings Joshua and Emily Bartlett took out the Moyne shire's top award.
But for me each year the equal winner to these awards is the non-assuming long-term Moyne youth leader Geraldine Edar-Ralph. Geraldine has been a youth leader for many years. She was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Australia when she was 11. While Geraldine enjoys many things, including travelling, the outback and cooking, her real passion is working with young people. As well as running the most successful youth program in Moyne shire, Geraldine annually undertakes an annual pilgrimage to her family village in the Philippines — an alternative to schoolies week.
Recently when Geraldine was asked what she would do if she had a million dollars she said, 'I'd finish the construction of our boarding facility for underprivileged children in the Philippines, extend it to take more children and establish a trust fund so they can finish high school and break the cycle of poverty. Then I would go to the Maldives for a few days'.
I have known and worked with Geraldine for many years and know that she privately supports families overseas as well as her own nephews and nieces. She is a lovely person who gives so much to her local community. Congratulations to the winners of the Youth Achiever awards, and a big thankyou to Geraldine.