Michelle Lensink

Operation Flinders Foundation

This speech is to express the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK's support for the Operation Flinders Foundation.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (21:38): I rise to make some remarks in support of this motion and, given the hour, I promise to be brief. I congratulate the mover of this motion and, indeed, Operation Flinders and all the people who are associated with it—the board, John Shepherd (their CEO), all the staff and volunteers of which there are many who have worked so assiduously over many years to ensure that the program survived.

There have been funding issues. There have been issues with the property that they have had access to in order to run the program where one has been available and then circumstances have changed so they have had to search for a new property. They have had their trials from time to time in terms of being able to provide the service, but I think their commitment to it and to the youth of South Australia is to be commended.

The service, as we have heard from a previous speaker, is provided to at-risk young people, and quite a number have gone through the program, including some who have graduated on to become staff and broken that chain of being at risk. Operation Flinders has been a little bit misunderstood at times: some people at one stage were viewing it as some sort of boot camp of tough love, whereas in fact the activities are very specifically designed to build self-esteem and team work and for those young people who participate to reach the end of the program, having achieved things that they had not thought possible, and engaged in outdoor activities that they may never have engaged in before. There is also an Indigenous focus for some of the Indigenous participants to reconnect with their culture.

It is several years since I attended. My roommate at the time was the Hon. Kate Reynolds, who is no longer a member of this chamber and, yes, it was cold at the time of year that we attended.

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: My wife and I were there as well.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Indeed, the honourable mover and his lovely wife were there as well, and I think that they had had a lot of washouts and that there had been a considerable amount of rain, so it is not for the fainthearted.

I was certainly impressed with the volunteers who attended: they came from all parts of the state. There was a chap who was an ambulance officer from the Riverland, and there were members of the armed services and doctors and they would muck in and do whatever needed to be done, whether it was fixing telecommunications equipment, building or mending things or fixing flat tyres, and a number of them would return year after year because it is obviously something they believe in very strongly. They actually had a really good time mucking about in the bush as well.
With those brief remarks, I hope that Operation Flinders continues to have a very strong future and continues for future generations of young people. I commend the motion to the house.

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