Meal on Wheels

Today Abigail spoke in support of a motion recognising the important contribution that Meals on Wheels makes to regional and rural communities. She paid particular tribute to the work of Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith for her work in securing funding for the program locally.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (17:21:53): On behalf of The Greens I also support the motion. I thank the Hon. Ben Franklin for bringing it to the House today. I give particular thanks to the Ballina Meals on Wheels, just as the Hon. Penny Sharpe acknowledged the work done by the Lismore Meals on Wheels organisation. Ballina Shire Meals on Wheels is a not-for-profit service that has been serving seniors, people with disabilities and their carers since 1967. It is 95 per cent volunteer-run and it provides nutritious and balanced meals for members of the community as well as culturally appropriate meals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in the community. The genius of Meals on Wheels is that the health outcomes of volunteers and clients improve. The volunteers find that their physical and mental health improves because they are getting out and about, they are part of a shared project and they are giving back to the community.

The service supports better health outcomes for clients, with the delivery of quality food, as well as enabling people to live independently and safely in the comfort of their own homes. It also stays connected with clients by checking in on their wellbeing and welfare, which, for people living on their own in particular, can be a really huge source of comfort. We recognise the volunteer board of management of Ballina Shire Meals on Wheels—the service coordinator, Mrs Meleta Wood, and her team—and all of the tireless volunteers who deliver this incredible service to the Ballina community. The member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, has supported Ballina Shire Meals on Wheels since her election in 2015 and has visited the premises and met with the board on a regular basis. This year her office provided support for a successful $6,000 grant through the Northern Rivers Community Foundation Community Grants Program for an essential upgrade of its computer system. In 2017 Ms Smith delivered a Community Building Partnership grant of $24,000 to the service for much‑needed kitchen upgrades, and her office has provided information and support for grant applications each year since 2015.

The member has also attended, promoted and sponsored fundraisers for Ballina Shire Meals on Wheels in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She has supported Brunswick Valley Meals on Wheels since her election in 2015, including visiting those premises, engaging with the board and supporting the organisation with grant information and assistance. I also recognise the Ballina Hot Meal Centre, Ballina's only soup kitchen. Its tireless volunteers and the Catholic church in Ballina, with the support of the Ballina Masonic Centre, have for the past two decades been providing meals to those in need. While it had to shut its doors during the COVID-19 crisis because of a lack of funding, just last week the Hot Meal Centre reopened its doors to people in need in Ballina. This was able to happen thanks to a generous donation from the Cherry Street Sports Club as well as the tireless work of the Hot Meal Centre's board of management, with the assistance of Tamara and her staff.

For the full transcript of the debate visit the NSW Parliament website.

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