Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes

Friendly Faces, Helping Hands

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Friendly Faces, Helping Hands

 I ask the Minister for Health to wait for 30 seconds. Today is one of those rare days when we get to recognise someone from my electorate in the parliament. In the gallery today we have Kelly Foran, who has started a website called Friendly Faces Helping Hands that helps people in a time of medical crisis to gain information. We have just had a meeting with Dr Nicolarakis from your office, Minister, where Kelly talked about her website.

Kelly's story is one that is very interesting. She has had a series of health issues, including brain tumours and a stroke, while her infant son lost an eye to cancer and her husband had a farm accident which landed him in a Brisbane hospital. She saw the need for people, not just country people, but those who find themselves in a medical crisis to gain the necessary information. There are many services available to people, but finding that information in a time of crisis is particularly difficult.

Kelly, for the last three and a half years, has been running the website, Friendly Faces Helping Hands, along with a 24-hour call centre, from a farmhouse 60 kilometres from the nearest town. Through the website and call centre, she can put people in touch with the things they need. If you are sent to a hospital in Sydney or Brisbane—she has 600 hospitals on that website—you can find cheap accommodation, get parking at a reasonable rate, buy nappies for your child after hours or get a cheap meal with your family if your loved one is down there

Over time, it has grown into other services from within the community. What is interesting—and the minister would understand this—is that there are a lot of services out there but quite often the communication between them is not that great. Even the local GPs are not aware of what is available.

Kelly is in the process of enlarging the website and would dearly like it to become much bigger. It is about as big as it can be on the voluntary basis that she is doing it. She has had some help from her local community through generous support, and her friend Renee is with her now in Canberra in her quest to gain more understanding. I take this opportunity to bring Friendly Faces, Helping Hands to the attention of the Australian parliament as a great example of someone, who with absolutely no resources, saw a need through her own experiences and is doing something about it. Quite often we have people visit us in this place with a problem and they want us or the minister to fix it. Kelly has actually come along with a solution and not a problem and is certainly is looking for some assistance.

Recently all federal members of parliament had volunteers awards throughout their electorates, and Minister Butler, the Prime Minister and me, as the local member, in Parkes signed certificates for the volunteers. Kelly Foran is Volunteer of the Year for the Parkes electorate for 2012. On top of that there has been a bit of fortuitous luck. Last night Clubs Australia held a function in the Great Hall. They had a lucky door prize of $5,000 to the charity of your choice and a dinner for two at your local club. The member for Parkes was the lucky recipient of that prize. So it is with great honour that I would like to give that $5,000 to Friendly Faces, Helping Hands for Kelly to continue with the great work that she is doing.

I think it is a wonderful opportunity to recognise Australians who have done it tough but who are doing something about it. Kelly's story would actually bring tears to your eyes, should I go into it, but I am sure she would rather I did not. Friendly Faces, Helping Hands is about an everyday Australian in a farmhouse 60 kilometres from town doing something that is already helping hundreds of people right across the country.

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Mark coulton MP, Federal Member for the ELECTORATE Of Parkes


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