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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 2 Hansard (17 February) . .

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National Multicultural Festival—success

MS FITZHARRIS: My question is to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Minister, the annual Multicultural Festival was held in Canberra over the weekend of 13 to15 February. Could you update the Assembly on how the event went.

MS BERRY: I thank Ms Fitzharris for her question. I know that many people in this place enjoyed the success of the festival.

It is a pleasure to talk about the success of our 2015 National Multicultural Festival. This was my first major event since becoming Minister for Multicultural Affairs and my first official launch, as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, at the Indigenous showcase. I have only been in this role for almost a month now; I cannot take full credit. I do give my thanks to Minister Joy Burch for all of the hard work that she has done leading up to the National Multicultural Festival.

It is a weekend that my family and I have always looked forward to and enjoy so much because there is so much to see and do. No matter how young or how old you are, there is something for everyone. Personally, I am thankful to the many communities that made me feel so welcome at their stalls and performances. I would not have had it any other way.

It was such a great weekend. The weekend showed just how amazing and diverse our city is. I am proud of how much this festival is embraced by so many people across Canberra, from our volunteers and staff to sponsors and festival visitors.

Our festival is now in its 19th year, evolving from a small celebration of a few hundred individuals to one of the biggest multicultural events in the country. The idea for Canberra's annual National Multicultural Festival started in the late 1970s. Canberra Week celebrations in 1977 included cultural exhibitions which focused on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as well as on the country of origin of many Canberrans, who at the time were mostly from European countries.

In 1996, the annual National Multicultural Festival became official, and in the space of a decade the festival grew to incorporate the food and dance spectacular, the Indigenous showcase, the Greek Glendi, Carnivale in the City, Chinese New Year, India in the City and the Pacific Islander showcase, which are now annual cornerstones of the program. Today it is an event that reflects the more than 170 nationalities that represent our Canberra community.

The ACT government works each year with many thousands of stallholders, performers, community organisation members, members of the diplomatic community and tireless volunteers to bring together our wonderful festival. Huge crowds flock to Civic to eat, dance, enjoy, connect and learn at the three-day extravaganza.

There are growing numbers coming from out of town and even from overseas, with the average crowd figures topping well over 250,000 people. It has become a celebration that unites our city like no other. That is quite a journey from its humble


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