House:LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY- SECOND READING
Date:9.40 PM WEDNESDAY, 2 December 1998
Member:Cunningham, Mr Ted; Graham, Mr Larry
Subject:APPROPRIATION (CONSOLIDATED FUND) BILL (NO 3) - SECOND READING
Page:4741 / 1

Because funding is so tightly tied to outcomes the temptation to help only those who will provide an agency outcome for funding purposes can be very real. While we make sure we attain the necessary outcomes, our focus has been and always will be to seek out and assist the most disadvantaged in our community - to fill any gap whatsoever. Often financial resources are not available as people are turned away from so many doors. The too-hard-to-help are often as a last resort left at our doorstep.

Gerald Searle is what most would term the backbone of the organisation. As director of the Catholic Migration Centre he has provided leadership, guidance and vision to ensure that the Catholic Migration Centre will be well placed to continue into the nearing new century.

Gerald was born and educated in Cape Town, South Africa. He has been involved in several areas of pastoral ministry and has been a staunch, steadfast rock for the centre. He worked for the migrant centre in Bunbury and then took up the position of director of the centre almost 15 years ago. He is especially involved with assisting refugees, irrespective of where they come from or what are their religious beliefs. His leadership qualities are reflected in the fact that the turnover of staff at Catholic Migration is the lowest of any ethnic-related community organisation. He has a very simple belief that as he is doing the "right thing", no matter what crisis may arise it will work itself out - the old belief that God will provide.

Two years ago, when the centre faced a financial crisis, he was willing to take a cut in salary as long as he could continue his work with refugees. His hard work has ensured that the Catholic Migration Centre now has four grants which should stay in place for the next few years. It is indeed a pity that Gerald's good work has not received the recognition that it so richly deserves. I know that the minister shares my view. Gerald Searle should have been recognised well before now for his work at the centre. The work done by the staff goes beyond that set down in their duty statements and work plans. There is not one staff member who does not do extra work. An example is Ana Maria Ortega. Nena Newmann, her offsider in the employment program, has been on sick leave, and Ana Maria has taken on the burden of the whole employment program as well as doing extra in the employment and training area. Vilma Palacios not only does what is required under the Dima Grant but also is acting as the coordinator of the community refugee settlement scheme.

One person I should mention is Nicholas Agocs, chairperson of the Catholic Migrant Centre. He was appointed by the Catholic Archbishop of Perth in February 1998. He has been a member of the board since 1995. Nick was born in Hungary and arrived in Australia in 1950. He has long been associated with various multicultural and ethnic bodies. He was recognised by the Graylands Chapter of the Edith Cowan University as the Achiever of the Year for services to the ethnic community. He is a typical community person. His communication skills, professionalism and leadership, together with the qualities of the staff at the centre, have enhanced and contributed to the success of the migrant centre.

Nicholas Oud, the treasurer, has been involved with many prominent Catholic organisations over many years. Brother Geoff Seaman, who works with the St Vincent de Paul Society, has marvellous skills that have enabled him to carry out volunteer work ably in my electorate of Girrawheen. Tony Giles has expertise in the employment and training area. Graeme Cox has expertise in fund raising. Philip Courtney is an accountant and works in the management and technology area. The majority of clients at the centre are Muslim, especially many of the women it assists, Coptic Christians or Buddhists. Catholics make up a very small minority of the clients of the centre.

Catholic Migration heads an army of bilingual volunteers who visit the aged and assist in English language home tutoring programs. The board is continually headhunted. People who are willing to become members and have special skills or expertise which will enhance the working of the board and, through it, the centre, are in demand. Being a Catholic is not a criterion for selection as a member. One person, Vanessa Moss, is a lawyer who works in the legal aid area of the board. She is a practising Anglican, whose husband is training for the priesthood.

Gerald Searle was instrumental in organising the gala dinner and dance at the Rendezvous Observation City at Scarborough Beach last Friday night, a fitting conclusion to the week-long celebrations. The 300 guests included Monsignor Keating, the Vicar General representing the Archbishop; the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests representing the Premier and the federal Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; the member for Nollamara representing the Leader of the Opposition; the newly elected member for the federal seat of Stirling, Jann Macfarlane; yours truly representing one of the most multiculturally-rich electorates in Western Australia; and Bob Kucera, the Assistant Commissioner of Police.

I conclude by reflecting on a phrase used by Gerald Searle, the director of the Catholic Migration Centre of Western Australia: The decision to go ahead with the program of jubilee celebrations was a leap of faith that ended in a dance of joy. Gerald Searle is indeed a great ambassador for Catholic migration in Western Australia. I pay tribute to him, his staff and the Board of Catholic Migration in Western Australia for a job very well done.

MR GRAHAM (Pilbara) [10.04 pm]: I will address some problems relating to Aboriginal communities particularly, and to the north west generally. I could spend my entire speech talking about the lack of state government support to Aboriginal communities for essential services, but I will not because Hon Tom Stephens in the other place has canvassed that matter significantly. With the support of a group of people from the north west, he is actively and avidly pursuing that question