Operation Flinders


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (12:45): I too rise to support this motion and congratulate everybody who has anything to do with putting together Operation Flinders on its 20th anniversary. It is also worth noting that a few Liberal members of parliament very recently went to Yankaninna Station and participated, in one way or an other, with an Operation Flinders activity.

I am sad to say that, as much as I have tried, I have not actually been able to get to Yankaninna when one of the operations is running, but I did visit Yankaninna Station on 25 August and had a very good look around at the property. At that same day, I visited Nepabunna community and also Mount Serle Station. Yankaninna is set in a very, very beautiful and also challenging part of South Australia—the tremendous Flinders Ranges—and I am sure every member of this house would have visited the Flinders Ranges at some stage. As the member for Fisher mentioned, the isolation of this program is one of its key features. You cannot just pack up and go home.

In the context of the electorate of Stuart, Yankaninna Station is not a particularly isolated place, but I am sure that for the vast majority of people who participate in the programs it is as far as they have ever been, and I am glad that they have come that far.

I enjoyed the presentation from Operation Flinders earlier this year, as did many members of parliament from all political persuasions, and I was very interested to learn some more details about the program that I was not aware of. It is important to recognise that some representatives of the Adnyamathanha community have expressed concerned about the appropriateness of some of the specific locations used by the program.

All members of this house and the broader public are very aware of my views with regard to the responsibilities of all pastoral lease owners conducting dingo control programs. Whether or not they are actually in the pastoral industry, I consider Operation Flinders to be a very good use of this pastoral lease, but I remind everybody (as I do whenever I can) that, regardless of the use of a pastoral lease, controlling dingoes, if not for your benefit but, importantly, for the benefit of your neighbours, is very important.

One thing that we all agree on wholeheartedly—and certainly I share this view—is the great value of this program to the young people who participate in it. I was very fortunate through probably the first half of my life to be very actively involved in sport. My parents certainly supported that at an early age, and I continued with it for as long as I could. Through that, I have a strong view that one of the greatest things a person can ever do, either for their self-development or also for their team development, is to go through some things that are actually really hard to do. Sport, of course, is a very healthy and voluntary way of gaining that sort of experience. I know that for some of the people who participate in the Operation Flinders program, while they are not shackled and dragged there, it may not be exactly the first thing they choose to do for those 10 days.

However, I believe very strongly that if any person—and particularly a young person—regardless of gender, religion or race, successfully sees their way through to the end of a difficult program that involves physical activity, teamwork, bonding, personal achievement, and they face activities they are scared of or do not particularly want to do but take that leap of faith (as the member for Schubert called it) and participate in things like abseiling, walking extreme distances, doing it when it is very hot or very cold, looking after the people who are going through it with them at the same time and starting to think about the broader team and not just themselves, then that will go a long way for the rest of their life in regard to their personal development and the choices they make and the direction they take from then on.

I congratulate Operation Flinders for having a program that gives young people who need that sort of help the opportunity, and I am confident that it does improve their lives. I congratulate Operation Flinders and support this motion wholeheartedly.


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