Senators Statement - Baby Give Back, Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited, Priceless House

I'm a big believer in the power of civil society. By that I mean that we can often achieve so much more when local people get together to solve a problem in their own backyard, in a way that suits local needs, than we can by government intervention from afar. There are three great examples that I'd like to mention today which really show us how Queenslanders faced with a need or a problem to solve, or a way that they want to see the lives of those around them improved, are changing the face of our community. It's enough to give you goosebumps!

The first is Priceless House. At Priceless House, any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy can find non-judgemental and caring support. The volunteers there are midwives, nurses and other women with relevant skills who are committed to helping women at this time of vulnerability. Usually the ladies who come through the door are alone. Some of them who come through the door are in seriously troubling predicaments—facing domestic violence, homelessness, addiction or being ostracised by their family—and the ladies at Priceless House make it their mission to become another family for them. They don't just help with counselling and decision-making in this unexpected position for these vulnerable ladies; they help to connect them with pregnancy support throughout the term, arrange second-hand, but quality, supplies to help get a nursery up and running, and the pastoral care they need to emerge from pregnancy stronger and more ready for the challenging job of being a parent. I am in awe of their loving and whole-of-mother approach to care of the vulnerable. With this approach, they demonstrate something that I know they deeply believe—that all lives, mothers' and babies', from all walks of life are valuable and have something special to contribute to the world.

This brings me to another great Queensland organisation. Baby Give Back is a charity based in Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast. It's the brainchild of Carly Fradgley. She started what she called a hobby of collecting preloved baby goods when her children were growing out of car seats and prams. She thought that those gently used baby items still had life in them, and wanted to make sure somebody in need could benefit from them. Carly, her sister, Mindy, and her team of volunteers believe that every baby deserves a safe start to life, so they work tirelessly to collect and safety check essential baby items for families in need. They're so committed to every baby having their needs met that they even buy essential baby items when demand is high, everything from car seats to nappies.

For most expectant parents, there is a joy that comes from preparing for a new arrival: picking out the perfect cot, a new pram or the perfect teeny tiny clothes. For some new parents, though, that experience is more like agonising over whether to buy nappies or food for their child, because they simply can't afford both, or not knowing how they're going to get their child home from hospital without an installed car seat. What started for Carly as a hobby of helping to match preloved baby goods with new families has now become a full-time task for her and her team of volunteers.

I was introduced to Baby Give Back by my state colleague Michael Hart, the member for Burleigh. Together, he and I recently donated a bunch of new car seats for their team. Baby Give Back have a Christmas appeal on right now. It's about helping 240 families in urgent need to have that need met between now and Christmas. So, for those listening from afar, have you got some baby goods in good nick that could use a second life, or a willingness to spend a few dollars to buy a few new items? Check out the website for Baby Give Back. Give them a google. There are 240 newborns for whom it will make all the difference. Every baby deserves a good start to life, and that starts with a safe place to sleep, to travel safely, and to be warm, dry and fed. It's easy to get emotional when you reflect about how there are some kids for whom that is not a given, but, one by one, Baby Give Back are reducing that number with the help of so many Queenslanders.

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the GAPDL—long acronym! That acronym stands for the Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd. While that's ordinarily a group that looks after developing the tourism attractions of the Gladstone region and attracting new businesses to set up in Gladstone, it has a really interesting story in this space. A few years ago, it was noticed that there was a real need for more help for families in the region. In particular, there was a lack of opportunity for people who didn't have the parenting skills they needed to find a way to get them. When you've grown up learning how to be a good parent by observing your own parents do a pretty good job, adjusting to being a parent yourself can still be a really steep learning curve, and I'm very happy to admit to that from my own experience. But when there are people who haven't had the benefit of those good influences, through no fault of their own—through absent parents, the loss of a parent, mental health problems, addiction or the imprisonment of a parent—it's just that much harder, without a good teacher.

GAPDL saw a need. And even though it wasn't part of their usual remit, it didn't matter. They stepped into the breach. They established Gladstone Region Communities for Children, and they teach—in a way that is basically community funded—the Circle of Security parenting program, helping to break the cycle of social problems with origins in childhood by giving parents the help they need to learn to do this most important job in life well. Giving kids a secure attachment to those who care for them, a secure base from which to learn and explore the world around them and a safe haven to return to when their developmental needs and their emotional stage require it is life-changing stuff. And it's all done by a tourism promotional group that saw a need in their community. They filled it in a way that is just perfect for the community in which they are situated and is, in many ways, different to how you'd do it in any other place. It's one of those things about Queensland: it's so big and so diverse that the solutions it needs for problems are usually not one size fits all. But to those in Gladstone who had the initiative to take on this seemingly enormous and intergenerational issue one step at a time, I'd like to say a very big 'good on you'.

With the support of local businesses and their donations—one that pops to mind is Ron Harding from Central Queensland Tool Supplies, who I know generously supported them recently—these civil society groups are, in a way that no government ever could with a diktat from afar, changing the lives of the people in their communities, changing the face of their local areas and offering hope and assistance to those who have a real need now. And so, to each of these groups—Priceless House, Baby Give Back and Gladstone Communities for Children—thank you for all that you do. Thank you for the model of active citizenship you provide for all of us in Queensland by noticing what's going on in your area and not being afraid to step up and make a change when it's needed.