SPEECH: Constituency Statements - Professor Kelvin Kong, OzHarvest

02 August 2023


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle—Deputy Speaker) (09:50): I'm honoured to rise in the Australian parliament to congratulate and pay tribute to a very proud Worimi doctor, Professor Kelvin Kong, who has been awarded the 2023 National NAIDOC Person of the Year Award. Professor Kong has dedicated his career to early intervention on middle ear disease, known as otitis media. Indigenous children experience the highest levels of middle ear disease in the world, affecting up to 70 per cent of children in remote communities. This contributes to poor educational and social outcomes and, consequently, limited employment opportunities. Professor Kong is committed to changing these statistics, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of children under three.

While based in Newcastle, he spends time each year travelling to remote Aboriginal communities to ensure that children can access high-quality ear health care that would otherwise be limited or absolutely unavailable in the regions that they live in. By treating those children at an early age, Professor Kong has a direct impact on children's ability to learn and develop, to laugh and interact with their friends and to thrive in life. Professor Kong is a strong advocate also for a national strategy now to support hearing health that provides equitable access to culturally safe ear health everywhere in Australia.

He was Australia's first Aboriginal surgeon and is one of only three Indigenous surgeons in Australia. He also mentors high-school students to encourage more Indigenous students to embark on a career in medicine and surgery. A well-loved and respected leader in the Newcastle community, Professor Kong is a thoroughly deserving recipient of this award. Congratulations.

If anyone knows me, they know I am not a great early morning person. But, when OzHarvest asked me to join their early morning food rescue run, I jumped at the chance. OzHarvest do fantastic work in reducing food waste by delivering surplus food to people who actually need it. Launched in 2010, OzHarvest Newcastle has five vans, which rescue food from Raymond Terrace to Maitland and up to Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. Their yellow vans are out and about every day, collecting quality surplus food from supermarkets, cafes, delis and restaurants and delivering them to local charities. OzHarvest Newcastle alone delivers more than 140,000 meals every month. That is food that would otherwise end up in landfill, contributing to our carbon footprint. In fact, reducing food waste is the third most effective way to address climate change.

Their goal is to halve food waste by 2030 in Australia, something we can all strive to achieve in our own homes. I congratulate OzHarvest Newcastle on their fantastic work, and I encourage all MPs in this House to get involved with their local OzHarvest operation