Federal Member for Blaxland Jason Clare MP today met with local resident Mrs Peggy Simpson, who lived in Lae, Papua New Guinea from 1946 to 1956.
Jason was accompanied by Steven Tu, one of the young people he will take to Papua New Guinea to trek along the ‘Black Cat’ Track in April.
After reading a story about the Mateship Trek in the local newspaper, Mrs Simpson was thrilled that young people would be learning about this part of our military history and wanted to share her experiences of the region from more than 57 years ago.
“It is absolutely wonderful that Jason and these young Australians are going to explore Papua New Guinea, the people and their rich history,” Mrs Simpson said.
“I was the same age as these young trekkers when I lived there for just under 10 years. I hope they bring me back a photo so I can see how different it looks now.”
This is the third Mateship Trek Jason has organised. In 2009 he took young people from Bankstown along the Kokoda Track. In 2011 Jason took students from our local high schools to retrace the footsteps of World War Two POWs along the Sandakan Death March.
This year, the Mateship Trek will return to Papua New Guinea to walk the Black Cat Track over the Anzac Day period and will involve six young people from Western Sydney.
Mr Clare said this is an important opportunity for young people to understand the significance of our military history and share their very different experiences of being Australian.
“I am doing this to help young people in our local community. They are our future leaders,” Mr Clare said.
“I know that the Mateship Trek is working when the young people I have taken to Kokoda and Sandakan all tell me that ANZAC day is now so special for them.
Steven Tu from Bankstown said he was proud to have been chosen to be a part of the 2013 Mateship Trek.
“It will be a great honour to retrace the footsteps of our Australian soldiers during World War Two,” Steven said.
“We have so much to learn from their experiences, lessons that should never be forgotten.
Steven spent a GAP year at the RAAF Officer Training Program at Point Cook and remains an active Scout Leader with 2nd Bankstown Scout Group.
Media contact: Chris Zogopoulos 02 9790 2466