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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (23 September) . .

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seekers residing in the ACT; the extension of the Tuggeranong introductory English centre for children from non-English-speaking backgrounds to help them adjust into Australian school life for which the 2013-14 budget allocated $1.8 million at Wanniassa Hills primary; the community languages and multicultural grants program continues to support groups and individuals in the ACT funding community language classes, multicultural radio programs and contributing to projects which enhance social cohesion and harmony in our city; and the work experience and support program which continues to support people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, specifically those with a refugee background, to gain meaningful work experience, establish networks and develop professional confidence.

Our multicultural frameworks aim to support the ACT's multicultural communities to ensure everyone has the ability to reach their full potential and that the ACT embraces the benefits of our city's culturally diverse community. Indeed, any of us who left the Assembly at lunchtime today would have noticed the group from the Solomon Islands performing in Civic Square serenading us with their pan pipes as part of the Windows to the World event. I was able to stay there for a little time, and I admired their bravery in standing in their traditional dress in a cold Canberra spring afternoon.

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (4.40): As the shadow minister for multicultural affairs, I am really pleased to speak to Dr Bourke's motion on multiculturalism, and I thank him for bringing this motion today. There is no doubt that we as a nation have benefited from the many cultures and ethnic groups who now call Australia home. It has been since the very foundations of our nation that migrants who brought such a diverse array of perspectives and hard work to this country have built this nation and have learned to call it home, not to mention the varying food that are fortunate enough to experience in our country which we have due to the multicultural weave Australia has become.

In Australia we have over 30 language groups and we are home to innumerable ethnic clubs and schools and societies and organisations which make our city and our country great. The Scanlon Foundation's annual mapping social cohesion report demonstrated the strong, entrenched public support for our unique Australian multicultural nature. Some 85 per cent of people surveyed agreed that cultural diversity is good for Australia; 92 per cent felt a sense of belonging; and 88 per cent expressed pride in our Australian way of life.

Of particular interest—and highly encouraging—was concern about immigration being at its lowest since the survey began in 2007. That is a good outcome. People do not fear; people are feeling confident. About 58 per cent of those surveyed said the immigration intake was roughly right, and Australians in general and Canberrans in particular really welcome people from all over the world.

I am really pleased that Dr Bourke is committed to supporting refugees, migrants and multicultural communities. Here in Canberra we have welcomed many refugees to our city over the last few years, and I will give the numbers in a moment. Our migrant population has contributed to business, the arts, strong families, education and sport. Even in this place are people who started out life as refugees. Our multicultural communities offer support, understanding and inclusion for those new to Australia as well as offering a vast range of experiences to other Australians.


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