Legislative Council Tuesday 15 March 2016
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, we all love our communities and appreciate the importance of community to the health and wellbeing of all its members. Today I bring to the attention of members a wonderful community initiative in the small west coast town of Rosebery.
Rosebery Community House has this year published its first Community Keepsake. This is the book I have with me today. The Community Keepsake was launched on 18 February 2016 at the opening of the Rosebery Arts and Craft exhibition at the Rosebery Community House. Eighty-five people attended the book launch.
The Community House told me their Keepsake is all about celebrating the connections within the community. They say, 'We are here. We have a shared experience, yet we all have our own unique stories.' The Community Keepsake celebrates these stories. The stories were prepared by Turk McDermott, Kerrie Maguire, Bob Gill and Lynn O'Grady. What a stellar job they have done. They tell the story of people from within the Rosebery/Tullah community who were both proudly born on the west coast, and those who have come to be part of their community from around the world. The Keepsake uses words to paint a picture of 16 people from the Rosebery community.
Staff at the Community House told me that they know this publication has only skimmed the surface of the stories of the local community. That is why they are already planning on a second keepsake. For me, as the elected member for this area, it is very exciting. The first edition was made possible through a grant from the Community Support Levy and assistance from the staff of Anglicare Tasmania. The feedback from the community has been positive. The Community House is constantly being asked when the next edition will be available and who will be in it. The book is currently being sold for only $5 in an attempt to cover the cost of the next edition. To date, 165 copies have been sold. Perhaps one of the most moving passages in the Keepsake, and a rather topical passage given some of the comments made by federal members in recent debates, comes from a courageous young lady from Rosebery:
Miss Benson asked my parents to come to the school. Mum and Dad found out what had been happening and when we got home we were able to talk further. I could see the anguish in their eyes.
My little brother had heard rumours about me at school and he had defended me about some horrible things other students were saying. I told my brother the truth. I sensed his confusion and his shame became my shame for a while. This was at a time when I could not protect my little brother. It broke my heart.
Being honest about yourself can leave you to be vulnerable to attack. I guess it is inevitable in small towns that people will delight in gossip and rumour. My sexual preferences were discussed by my peers and there has been an element of bullying. In saying that, there has also been an element of support. At a hockey game, one of my competitors insulted me in an attempt to put me off my game by making references about my sexuality. This behaviour was challenged by my teammates and the league. I finally felt supported by my community.
I am happy for my story to be here. I am still finding my way in life but I know that loyalty must also extend to yourself. I expect nothing less of myself.
That story is both a tragedy and a light on the hill of hope - a tragedy in the torment of a young lady but hope for a brighter picture for her, her loved ones and her community. Others whose stories are noted in the book also speak about the importance of community and the supportive nature of the west coast, particularly the Rosebery community, with Sam Mawer saying:
Rosebery has always provided many freedoms within a protected environment for children to grow, flourish and become independent. I am saddened that our community is shrinking and that we as a family may have to move one day. Rosebery is a part of us and will always be home.
Turk McDermott wrote about the things which have changed over time in the Rosebery community. Turk is quite an avid writer. He was reflecting on times past under the heading 'In life, when I was young', saying:
Smoking was allowed in bars. Women were not. To be allowed into the ladies' lounge, women were required to be approved by the proprietor's wife and only if their husband was agreeable, and only if they sat quietly and behaved themselves. To be drunk, to fight, to argue, to sing and otherwise conduct themselves disgracefully, men were required only to be breathing.
Reflecting on then and now in Rosebery:
Then, there was no speed limit on the narrow, unfinished roads outside the town boundary. It was common to travel at 100 miles an hour, 160 kilometres an hour, that is, if your car could do it. Now, people complain that the 100 kilometres per hour speed limit, 60 miles per hour, are too high and the new, wider, much improved roads are hard to handle. Go figure....
People who retired from the mine were then required to leave town because 'no‑one wants to retire to a mining town. Now, people are coming from all over the country to retire in our wonderful town'.
It just shows how things change over the time. This is only a very small glimpse of the many other moving and informative stories contained within this special keepsake. I encourage all members of this place and the other House to contact my office to arrange a copy of the book for themselves to help fund the future edition. It is a heart warming account of one of our state's most remote communities and one I am always proud to represent.