Member for Hastings Neale Burgess MP yesterday spoke to the Victorian Parliament about Reclink Australia and the re-establishment of Western Port Warriors Football Team, which was a vital support for members of the Hastings and Somerville community. Read the transcript below:
"I was pleased to join John Ballis, chief executive officer of Reclink Australia, in Hastings last Friday to announce the re-establishment of the Western Port Warriors football team and its invitation to rejoin the annual Reclink football fixture. The Western Port Warriors was and will be again an excellent Australian Rules football team for disadvantaged young people in the Hastings and Somerville areas. Reclink Australia will be raising funds through the 2017 Great Peninsula Paddle to be held on Australia Day to assist the re-establishment of the Warriors. The Western Port Warriors football team was a very popular football team that earned the support and admiration of the entire Hastings community. The team was coached by former police officer Andrew Brady, and such was the impact Andrew and his team had on the local community that Andrew, a decorated police officer, was recognised as the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council citizen of the year.
"It was an incredible experience to see these young men celebrating on the day team selections were announced, not because they had made the side but because one or more of their team mates was no longer available for selection because he had got a job. The Western Port Warriors was the only means for hundreds of disadvantaged young people and their families living in the Hastings and Somerville areas to connect to the wider community and to break the cycle of loss of confidence, low self-esteem, unemployment, isolation and boredom. I am a strong supporter of the Warriors, and the community will get right in behind this team again.
"I am very pleased that the community will be welcoming back the Warriors. Reclink Australia is calling on businesses to get behind the Western Port football team and to help raise $15 000 in the first year. Reclink Australia is a national community-based, not-for-profit organisation working in partnership with over 70 community-based organisations throughout Victoria to deliver cost-effective targeted services to improve the lives of people experiencing disadvantage, including homelessness, mental health, alcohol and drug addiction, justice and Indigenous issues."