Community Mural Alexandria Park School

(10am 5 April 5 2012, Park Road, Alexandria)

Hello, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our City.

I'd also like to thank Hilton Donovan for his welcome to the school, and Ricky Lyons for his Welcome to Country.

What a fantastic job you have all done on this mural. Congratulations to the Alexandria Community Garden group, whose idea it was. And congratulations to Ben Compton and the 350 students who worked under his direction to create it.

I love the way it features the flora and the fauna including the blue-tongue lizards and cockatoos and even the bandicoot which was first spotted last year - the first to be seen in our local government area literally for decades.

The return of native wildlife is just another worthwhile result of the creation of community gardens.

We were proud to support the formation of the community garden some years ago and we were also pleased to support this mural through our Matching Grants program.

Co-operative projects like these help build stronger communities through developing local skills and promoting social bonding.

Governments can't build communities by decree, though we can foster and support them.

Real communities begin from within, and spread outwards. They begin with the individual or group who sees a need and works out a way to meet it - like the creation of this mural to avoid the tagging and graffiti that was marring the area.

Some projects - like this one - will also involve a range of people - in this case, the support from Street Furniture Australia and City East Community College - so that community bonds are broadened and strengthened.

Thank you for inviting me here today. I think you've achieved a fantastic result, and I want to congratulate the Community Garden group, Ben and his helpers, and all those who worked on or supported this project.

You've created a delightful public artwork and wonderful environment for this garden, the school and this community.

Thank you all.