Constituency Statement – Xavier Catholic College, YMCA Bundaberg Vocational School

Thursday, 3 August 2023

Mr PITT: Last week I attended the opening and the dedication of a new college chapel at Xavier Catholic College at Hervey Bay. This was an incredible story, to be frank, and congratulations to the principal, Simon Dash, and all of the people who worked on this project. This was originally the church at a very small community called Woolooga, in the member for Wide Bay’s electorate, more than 100 kilometres away. It originally opened around 1920 and has been repurposed, relocated and rededicated as a chapel for Xavier Catholic College. In fact, whilst at Woolooga, it was dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier as well, so the connection is quite incredible.

Madam Deputy Speaker, you can just imagine how many christenings, funerals, weddings and other events occurred at this small church in a small rural community from the 1920s onwards, and, for it to now provide another service to the kids who go to Xavier Catholic College, I think it’s a remarkable story. It was attended and blessed by Father Adrian Farrelly, together with Father Jacob Kalu, and there were a number of dignitaries from Brisbane Catholic Education and right across the community. I think the best part was the prep students creating their own artwork for the new chapel after the blessing, and congratulations to all of them.

This is a little change of pace, but you won’t find me doing the YMCA to the Village People in the near future, I don’t think! However, at the YMCA in Bundaberg, we have just had the opening of the vocational school last week. We, in the coalition, announced funding of $1.45 million back in December 2020. This project not only has been completed but has been opened and is operational in that short period of time. It is the first regional site and the 10th YMCA vocational school in Queensland, and it is for those kids who have challenges in traditional education. They can come and learn skills that they desperately need in an environment that works for them. These discussions started way back in March 2019. It’s a wonderful facility and it was really incredible to be there amongst the community of Bundaberg at the YMCA and particularly with the kids.

As I said to them at the time—and this senior campus has more than 27 students in years 10 to 12, and those enrolments are growing. The message I gave at the time was to them. I was one of the few people in this place in the cabinet—I think the only one—who came through the vocational system as a tradesperson. So the opportunities for them are endless. They simply need to dedicate themselves, pick the target they want, work hard and have the opportunity, and that’s what these types of facilities provide. To each and every student that is attending the vocational school at YMCA, I say: good luck to you. Go at it. Have a crack. You can be anything. As an example to look to, I’m happy to put myself forward. It can be done; you’ve just got to have a go.

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