Excerpt from an address by Mr Jihad Dib MP in the Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament on Thursday 18 March 2021.
We have all been touched by cancer in one way or another. We all know somebody who has had cancer and someone who has unfortunately lost their life to cancer. When it comes to blood cancers in Australia, 47 people a day are diagnosed. It is horrific. It is an awful experience and it encompasses not only the person who awfully suffers it but also the entire family. It affects everything about the way they live.
My family has a personal link to this: Many years ago my uncle passed away from leukaemia. I spent many of my university years being with him every day. He was only a young person. Leukaemia touches a lot of young people. Tragically in my first year as a member of Parliament my sister‑in‑law lost her life to leukaemia at the age of 26. It still breaks our hearts every single day.
At the time, my dad, who gave bone marrow to my uncle, said that he always hoped one day his children and our family would do something to support people in the same way people supported us, by providing food and giving us assistance and a friendly smile.
We all know about the World’s Greatest Shave and we have heard about the Leukaemia Foundation. My family connection to this started with what we could do as a little family. A few years ago my eldest daughter dyed her hair blue in honour of my sister-in-law’s favourite colour. I was really proud of her for doing that. It really went against the grain, and she did it.
A couple of years later our next daughter, who had been growing her hair since she was five, cut off 50 centimetres of it to donate so that people could make wigs, which are really special and important things.
They inspired my nephews. Last year one of them, Jordan, raised $14,000 for World’s Greatest Shave. It was really fantastic; it was brilliant. But this year he wanted to go one better, because he knew that he could do it. He set up a team with his best mate Maksim, who just lost his 12-year-old cousin to leukaemia.
My other nephew, Rami Dib, wanted to come on board because he knew that he could help as well. I checked before I came into the Chamber, and so far they have raised $71,000. Three kids have raised $71,000 and there is still more that they can do. That goes into the pot of nearly $12.5 million for the World’s Greatest Shave.
The Leukaemia Foundation does really incredible things. It supports people and their families, whether it is through transport, accommodation or providing the emotional support that they need to get through those really difficult times, keeping in mind that so many young people are affected by leukaemia. All of the things that the Leukaemia Foundation does make a difference.
We in this House, as people anywhere would, hope that we can find something to cure blood cancer. We hope that we can put people in a place where they feel better and can recover from those awful cancers that affect every single one of us in some way. The thing that makes me proud is a bit of an indulgence, and I ask the House for its indulgence. I am really proud of my nephews and I am really proud of my kids.
All we ever want is for our children and the people that we love to understand the meaning and importance of charity and that there is always somebody who needs help more than we do. As bad as we might think we have it, there is somebody else who is in a life and death situation. Somebody else’s mother or father is having to drive them to hear bad news.
Somebody is having to bury a loved one. That is a hard thing for kids to comprehend and it is hard for us to comprehend, but you want that understanding for your children. When I talked to my dad the other day he said, “I couldn’t do much except give bone marrow, but how proud it makes me feel that my grandchildren dye their hair, cut their hair and raise a phenomenal amount of money.”
They are going to be embarrassed because they do not know I am going to be talking about this, but when you are inspired by children, how can you not get up and talk about it? How can you not say that this is where our future is? Our future is about building empathy, creating opportunity and getting people to understand that every single one of us has a role to play in society.
To my children and my nephews I say: I cannot tell you how proud I am of what you do. In this House we make some really important speeches, but the things you are doing are important. You have inspired people to do things—to dig into their pockets—and that is what making a difference is about.
Somebody is going to be the beneficiary of that kindness, compassion and goodness. If we have more charity, goodness and empathy in the world, as we have seen with these two 12‑year‑olds, then we will have a better world.