I rise to acknowledge the service of Nick and Connie Christou in my local electorate of Werribee.

Nick and Connie are well known in Werribee.

They own The Park Hotel in Watton Street — a local establishment that hosts events for people of all ages and provides budding musicians with opportunities to perform.

As the Chairperson of the Wyndham Business and Tourism Association, Nick has helped to usher in a generation of business leaders, fostering the growth of the Werribee economy.

And in December, for the second year in a row, the couple hosted a special Christmas lunch and a visit from Santa for local families who receive assistance from the Smith Family Foundation.

I was delighted to give a gift to this worthy cause along with other contributors.

The Andrews Labor Government is working to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, to ease the cost-of living pressures for families and generate opportunities for all.

But people like Nick and Connie recognise the important role that communities must play to assist those in need locally.

Economic hardship isolates people. It limits people’s engagement with their communities. Events such as this annual Luncheon show people they are not alone.

We are lucky to have Nick and Connie in our local community.