I rise to acknowledge all of the Australia Day 2021 award recipients and those acknowledged across the Toowoomba region. As I shared in my first speech in this place, Groom is a place of strong community values. That is reflected across our community. The Australia Day honours certainly demonstrate the strength of those values and how well they play out amongst us. Time does not permit me to name all of the award recipients, but I acknowledge you all and thank you all on behalf of the people of Groom.
I do wish, however, to single out two individuals. They are two young ladies who are committed to service, to helping others, supporting their community and being upstanding citizens. They are Toowoomba’s Young Citizen of the Year joint winners, Radhika and Krishnapriya Bhardwaj. They are inspirational sisters, and they are owed credit for feeding our firefighters, service people and residents during the 2019-20 bushfires and during COVID-19.
I have had the great pleasure of meeting these young ladies on several occasions. They are very impressive, compassionate, hard-working and selfless. The Bhardwaj sisters asked their parents to go above and beyond for their community. They even cancelled their overseas holiday in 2019, using that money to cook and distribute over 13,000 meals that went to firefighters and families impacted by the fires. It was a fantastic act of service. Responding to calls from other areas, the family then travelled, sharing meals, kindness and their beautiful smiles with people impacted by the devastating fires in Kangaroo Valley, Bega, the Snowy Mountains and Cooma.
When COVID-19 struck, the hard working teenagers struck again, themselves responding by distributing a hundred meals a day to health-care workers at the Toowoomba Base Hospital. In our Toowoomba region the
health community is such an important part of our community, and it is so great to see them in a difficult time being so well supported by the community. I think it reflects not only the high standing that the health community has within the Toowoomba region but just how well we want to work together and make things work together.
Radhika and Krishnapriya’s compassion and generosity is inspirational, and they’re very deserving recipients of Toowoomba’s Young Citizen of the Year award. I would go on to say that it’s not surprising, having met the parents of these two young girls, that they are inclined towards community service in this way, particularly since their father, Sid, plays such an important role in the Toowoomba region of bringing people together. I spoke in my maiden speech of my experience walking through Queens Park and being so glad to see the children from so many different cultural backgrounds playing together. It was during that time that I met Sid. He was kind enough to introduce me to Toowoomba’s local Sikh community, who do so much good in our region. He was so kind to take me in. The Sikh community speak very highly of the Toowoomba region’s ability to bring people together, and they are a great example of how regional immigration can work so well. I thank the Toowoomba Regional Council for their role in that.