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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 2 Hansard (18 March) . . Page.. 458..


Her family escaped Afghanistan during the Russian invasion in the 1980s, after the situation escalated. Maz's father, a practising architect, dreamt of a better life for his children, which would not have been possible if they had remained in Afghanistan.

In secret one night, the family packed up their worldly goods and escaped the troubled nation on horseback. They had paid a smuggler to lead them to a new life, but the circumstances were horrendous. Conscription was in force at the time and getting caught equated to death on the spot.

With helicopters hovering above them and the sound of bombs and rockets and very little food or water, Maz's family somehow managed to make their way across the border to Pakistan. But on the way there, their toenails fell off because of the walking, they could not sleep because they could hear sounds of wild animals howling, and they were stopped and searched by bandits as they passed through villages. Then, a little over halfway to Pakistan, the smuggler deserted them. Through perseverance and luck, the family somehow managed to cross the border, arriving in Pakistan in a refugee camp, where Maz was later born into poverty, as a refugee baby in a harsh land.

It took some time, but after settling into life in their new country, Maz's father began working as an architect again and her mother practising as a midwife. But her father dreamed of a more stable, brighter future for his family. That dream was to come to Australia. In Pakistan he had met some influential people through his work as an architect—and one, in particular, who changed the course of their family's destiny, helping them to migrate to Australia.

Now, 26 years on, Maz's father is still practising architecture and her mother is a retired midwife. Her siblings have also enjoyed much success. Her brother is an IT manager, one sister is a recruitment manager and the other is a TV presenter for BBC World News.

The key driving force that Maz's parents instilled in her over the years was that anything in life is possible and to dream big, which is exactly how she has lived her life here in Canberra. And now Maz's big dreams are about to come true. Soon she will return to the Middle East—Dubai, to be precise—in a new, prestigious role as an announcer for Virgin Radio. It is a new position that she is incredibly excited to be taking up and one that she says will allow her to share stories of her beloved homeland, and in particular Canberra, with much passion and enthusiasm.

Maz is keen to keep her connection to the capital, and we are keen to keep her connected to us. We as a community are very proud of her contribution to our city's multicultural way of life. Her support and advocacy for refugees is truly inspiring and has helped many members of one of Canberra's most vulnerable groups see that anything—as Maz's parents showed her—is indeed possible, and that if you dream big, you can soar high.

Heart Foundation walking group

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (4.44): I want to talk tonight about a local walking group that gets together to maintain their health each week and also to socialise and to keep


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