Legislative Council: Thursday, December 01, 2022


Lions Australia

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:

That this council—

1. Congratulates Lions Australia for celebrating its 75th anniversary in September 2022;

2. Recognises Lions Clubs throughout Australia, including those in South Australia, who are involved in establishing and managing a range of meaningful projects and foundations to support a wide variety of community needs; and

3. Notes the significant contributions Lions Clubs make in funding vital medical research, improving health care, assisting adults and children with disabilities, responding to natural disasters and emergencies and improving the lives of others.

(Continued from 3 November 2022.)

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (16:43): I would like to support this motion. I am delighted to speak on behalf of the Labor Party in regard to the 75th anniversary of Lions. Too often in human history, it has taken a crisis or emergency for the deep good in people and communities to shine through. Lions Clubs International was founded in Chicago in 1917 in response to hardships that had arisen because of the First World War. This was supposed to be a war to end all wars, but sadly this was not the case, as we have seen in ongoing conflicts around the world today.

Three decades after it began on the other side of the world, Lions began in Australia. Similar to its American origins, the first Australian Lions Club began 1947 in the aftermath of another war that had left people with grief, loss and hardship. But from adversity comes compassion and creativity, where people ask what they can do for their local communities and for people in need around the world.

The first Australian Lions Club was formed in Lismore in 1947, and the organisation has only continued to grow from there. Seventy-five years of service is an incredible legacy for any organisation, and Lions deserve credit for growing and adapting as the decades continue.

While it took until 1962 for the first Lions Club to be formed in South Australia, there are now over 50 thriving clubs at the heart of our communities. Importantly, many of these clubs are in our regional communities, where people will be familiar with small signs commemorating their work in parks and community spaces. But much of their work does not have a plaque or sign; it makes quiet but valuable contributions to the lives of people around us.

I know the local Lions at Gilles Plains not only contribute to many different projects but also sponsor Operation Flinders, which supports young people to go into the outback and develop skills and camaraderie with other kids. I understand, Mr President, that you once went and visited with Operations Flinders at one stage, and I know you found it quite valuable when you went on the project.

Whether it is a slice of Lions Christmas cake, providing food and emergency relief after a natural disaster or the well-known Lions Youth of the Year Quest, many of us have been touched by their work. In 1965, Lions introduced the first £1 cake, which has since morphed into an incredible annual fundraiser via their famous Christmas cakes. I know the member for Torrens buys many of these and delivers them to all the schools in her electorate, and I know the teachers and the staff of the schools appreciate it very much.

Before this Christmas season, the cakes have raised $60 million to help drive community programs and projects around Australia. This is simply an incredible achievement that has brought great joy to our lips but hopefully not too much to our hips! I encourage everyone in this chamber to make sure you grab your Christmas cake or pudding to continue to support the important work.

The 2021 SA winner of the Lions Youth of the Year Quest was a young man called Cameron Dixon, from Glossop High School. This again demonstrates the important opportunities that Lions offer to regional communities. We wish Cameron, Glossop and all of the Riverland the best as they face rising floodwaters in the coming month.

This brings me to possibly the most important work of Lions: when they step up as disaster approaches. To quote their own words, 'When disaster strikes, Lions focus on doing what we can to help those in need as quickly as possible; and when the danger has passed Lions will be working to revive these communities into the future.' This commitment not only to emergency relief but also to the care of the community is part of what makes Lions so special. As noted earlier, Lions was founded overseas and its work focuses both on local and international causes.

I want to make particular note of the Glenside Lions Club, which runs the Glenside Bookmart. They donated their entire takings from June to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Just one branch of this mighty organisation raised $20,000. The money raised went to food, clothing, hygiene supplies, sleeping bags and medicine for those who have fled violence in Ukraine. This is one part of an incredible $1,153,260 in grants from Lions International, truly making a difference to those suffering as a result of the conflict.

As the motion moved by the member opposite also notes, the Lions have assisted in funding all kinds of medical research, notably the Gardasil vaccination as a groundbreaking development in the fight against cervical cancer. They have also contributed to and funded research and support into childhood cancers, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury and cord blood research—truly important work that we are all so grateful for.

I place on record my thanks, and that of the government, to all of the tireless Lions volunteers for your achievements, your hard work and your impact across our communities. While this motion singles out Lions, I also place on record our appreciation for service clubs and volunteers of all descriptions who give their time and resources freely to make a better community.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:49): I also rise, on behalf of the Greens, to speak in favour of this motion. The motion recognises the 75th anniversary of Lions in September 2022. The Lions Club stands for liberty, intelligence and safety. Lions was first started in Australia in New South Wales in 1946. By 1976 the organisation had spread to 1,000 clubs.

They run a diverse range of programs, including youth exchange and junior public speaking. They are active in the area of health, diabetes, assistance dogs, hearing dogs, children's mobility and eye health. They run a lot of important humanitarian programs: support for refugees, older people and they run a range of fundraising drives. I must say, growing up in the southern suburbs it was always a time of excitement to see the Lions' sleigh move through the streets of Flagstaff Hill as they delivered the annual Christmas cakes.

They have done lots of good works in a range of different communities. They are very active in disaster relief, they have done work in the environment, and they foster research and innovation, most notably in the areas of arthritis, childhood cancer, and treatment for Alzheimer's and dementia. So I want to join the Hon. Russell Wortley, on behalf of the Greens—

The Hon. R.P. Wortley: Wortley.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Wortley. Pronunciation has not been my strong suit this week. I was reminded of my speech about Reuters media yesterday. I do thank the honourable member and recognise the honourable member's comments and echo his sentiments in terms of praising the remarkable work of these volunteers over many years, and the Greens are very proud to support the motion.

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:51): I rise to add my comments in support and commendation of Lions Australia for their 75th milestone of significant contributions to our community. As the largest and one of the most impactful service clubs in Australia, Lions volunteers should take great pride in their countless achievements that have enriched their local community and supported worthy global causes.

Whether it is contributing to important medical research, assisting children with disabilities or lending a hand during Australia's fires, floods and droughts, Lions Australia have collectively improved many lives. The numbers are impressive: 25,000 Lions volunteers gather at over 1,200 clubs throughout the country, and in 2021 managed to raise over $28 million and donate a staggering two million hours of voluntary services. This sort of philanthropy and community-centred focus is just the sort of mindset I believe we need to instil in our young children and young people from an early age, particularly for those of us with a privileged upbringing.

Lions Australia aim to have a membership base that closely matches the demography of our country, and they have been diligently adapting and evolving over the years to achieve this. Various initiatives have been pursued in recent years, such as establishing young Leo clubs for children and young adults, virtual clubs, ethnic clubs, special interest and autism clubs, and I encourage anyone out there who wants to give more back to the community to consider joining or at the very least donating today.

Volunteers' annual membership fees are used to cover administration costs, meaning that 100 per cent of donations go directly to the cause they are pursuing. Whether it is getting a free skin cancer check, raising millions for medical research, lending a hand with the response to floods and fires, or helping our homeless, there is a Lions Club near you that is eager to assist. I thank and congratulate Lions Australia on their remarkable efforts over 75 years and counting, and appreciate the honourable member for moving this important motion.

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN (16:53): On behalf of the mover, the Hon. Jing Lee, I would like to thank the honourable members, the Hon. Mr Wortley, the Hon. Mr Simms and the Hon. Ms Game, for their contributions to this motion. The Hon. Ms Lee thanks everybody for their support and on that note I commend the motion.

Motion carried.