Last month I spoke about one of the extraordinary volunteers in my electorate, Irene Edwards. Earlier this year Irene received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her volunteer work at Wynnum Manly Meals on Wheels and other local organisations.

Today I want to talk about her husband Ken Edwards, also OAM. Ken is the President of the Wynnum Manly Meals on Wheels. Thanks to Ken’s efforts and other Meals on Wheels volunteers, and the support of the community, construction on the brand new Wynnum Manly Meals on Wheels kitchen and community centre at Wakerley has begun. It’s been a decades-long journey for Ken and the others. It’s a great story I wanted to share, one that others can take inspiration from.

I’m proud to support an outstanding organisation like Meals on Wheels. I think we all know someone Meals on Wheels has helped, whether it’s themselves or an aged, frail or disabled relative or friend. I very much support efforts to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable members of our society; the Coalition government’s announcement of the aged care royal commission this week was very welcome.

But getting back to Meals on Wheels, the volunteers at Wynnum Manly have made such a huge difference at the local level. I turned the first sod at the new Wakerley site last Friday. Let me tell you, seeing the happiness on Ken’s face and how excited everyone was, it really made me proud to have secured them $300,000 in federal funding at the last election to fit out and equip their new facility. As well as a $20,000 Stronger Communities grant they used to purchase new kitchen equipment.

I also have to commend Brisbane City Council and my colleague Councillor Ryan Murphy for making the site available for lease to the Meals on Wheels.

These are significant investments from government. But compare it to everything the local community’s put toward getting the new Meals on Wheels facility up and running. Since 1995, they’ve fundraised tirelessly to make their new and improved home a reality. Together they’ve raised $2.8 million. What an achievement!

In Ken’s words, it’s been a very hard, dogged slug for this length of time. The hard work and perseverance from everyone involved has been such an inspiration. And I’m glad to say the benefits will flow on to the whole community.

The centre’s state-of-the-art commercial kitchen will allow the Meals on Wheels volunteers to cook, prepare and deliver more hot meals to more homes in the community. That means more people that will receive help to stay independent and remain in their own homes for longer. The fully-equipped kitchen will also ensure the Meals on Wheels can prepare meals to their usual high standards.

But that’s not all. The centre will also have many other features that local groups will be able to use for seminars, public meetings, training workshops, and other community events and activities.

There’ll be a community meeting room available for hire that can hold up to 150 people. Training spaces will be available, as well as a board room with a complete audio visual fit out, volunteer facilities, a veranda café, and a separate community kitchen.

Sporting spaces will also be available to sports groups in the area. Brisbane City Council is planning to build netball courts behind the new facility. These will be complemented by a canteen, dressing room and toilets underneath the new facility.

I’m so proud to be part of this government that recognises the importance of investing in vital community infrastructure projects like this. The new Meals on Wheels centre will help those in the community who need it most. It’s brought the community together, and when it’s completed it will serve to strengthen community ties. And it will also provide a boost to the local economy by creating dozens of construction jobs.

I can’t wait to see the completed kitchen and community centre and join everyone on opening day. I have to thank Ken and the rest of the Meals on Wheels volunteers, and everyone who donated to this worthy project, for their unwavering dedication. Thanks to your efforts the bayside community will benefit from this fantastic facility for years to come.