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SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS Launceston Benevolent Society - Tribute

Ms Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, today I hope to shine a light on the wonderful work Launceston charities are doing to help those in need in the lead up to Christmas.

The 183-year-old Launceston Benevolent Society is Tasmania's longest-running welfare organisation. The Launceston Benevolent Society has assisted 4000 people in the past year and gave $80 000-worth of financial assistance and $150 000-worth of food parcels. It provides food vouchers and parcels, assistance with utility bills, nappies, clothes and furniture.

The society raised $30 000 through its annual ball last month. They also collected six tons of canned food through their annual can drive. The society collects toys for children from newborns to 13-year-olds; these toys are donated by members of the public and businesses but a considerable amount comes from the ABC Giving Tree Appeal.

At this time of the year, the Launceston Benevolent Society is pleased to receive any donations but especially food, money, toys, towels and linen.

Launceston City Mission chairman Tim Holder says they helped more than 300 people last Christmas with emergency relief, food and gifts, and he expects that number to climb this year. City Mission CEO Stephen Brown says a wider group of people are reaching out to them, particularly low-income earners who do not qualify for government support. With rising costs for utilities and rents, the biggest challenge for people on low incomes and those who need government assistance is being able to afford to buy enough food. In the past financial year, they helped 3000 people, an increase of 40 per cent on the previous financial year.

One northern family helped by City Mission was faced with numerous serious challenges. The mother was diagnosed with cancer, requiring two trips to Hobart weekly. Once they returned from Hobart to discover they had been robbed and windows had been smashed. Electrical items and all the presents were stolen and the dog had been poisoned. The City Mission provided a listening ear and comfort to the family as well as food, fuel and Christmas toys.

A new initiative launched by the City Mission will make it easier for people to donate to charities in Launceston. Tap-and-go machines will allow you to swipe your credit card and donate to charities at the following businesses - Telstra in the Quadrant Mall and Kings Meadows stores, Cocobean Chocolate, Launceston Airport, Elaia Cafe Restaurant, Le Cafe on St George, Design Inn and the Bank of Us.

The Salvation Army in Launceston will help around 300 to 400 families this year with support, food parcels and toys. The Salvos this year are asking people to fill bags, called 'Love bags', with a list of nominated food items that can make a Christmas dinner for a family in need. Local businesses can assist by collecting food and toys for distribution, with Kmart once again running the Wishing Tree where people can donate toys at the Salvos in Launceston for distribution to local children. Donations of gift cards are appreciated and money can also be donated.

St Vincent de Paul estimates it will help 1000 people across Launceston this Christmas. This is double the normal monthly number of people they support. Volunteers will make about 150 food hampers with support from the Rotary Club of Launceston and Catholic schools across Launceston, including St Patrick's College and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School. The hampers contain food and a gift for children.

More than 550 people are expected to turn out for the Launceston City Community Christmas luncheon at the Albert Hall this coming Christmas Day with 100 people volunteering their time.

The Community Christmas is run by five charities - City Mission Launceston, the Launceston Benevolent Society, St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army and Colony 47. Last year's event was attended by a wide mix of people, from community leaders who volunteered their time to people in need, families, new migrants and people who are lonely. As someone who was there last year, there were people not necessarily in need, but who had no-one to spend Christmas with. They sat with people who became new friends and are coming along together this year. It was a real opportunity for people to meet other people. There are a lot of lonely people on their own at Christmas.

The ingredients and quantities required for this year's Christmas lunch are impressive; 70 kilograms of potatoes, 40 kilograms of carrots, 35 kilograms of pumpkin, 30 kilograms of turnips, salads, 80 chickens, 38 roast turkeys and 70 kilograms of Christmas pudding, ice cream and custard.

Anyone wanting to attend is asked to register on the website If you would like to make a financial donation to the day, you can contact the charities involved.

I thank and pay tribute to all the charities in my electorate and right across Tasmania who are working so hard to support those in need this Christmas.

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