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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . .

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Back to your roots writing competition

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.25): National Youth Week begins this Friday. It is 10 days dedicated to young people between the ages of 12 and 25. These young people are our future, and it is good to know their issues and concerns. It is also important to help them form and reach goals as well as to help them build strong and confident identities.

To help with this last point, five months ago I launched the back to your roots writing competition for all children and young people who live, study or work in the ACT. My goal was to encourage young Canberrans to develop a clearer sense of identity through exploring and then sharing something significant from their cultural backgrounds. I received submissions from people from a range of ages and backgrounds. For those who wish to read the three winning submissions in their entirety, I encourage you go to

Today I wish to share parts of these beautiful texts. The primary division winner, Matilda Jenkins from Wanniassa, submitted a short story that vividly portrays the toughness demonstrated by her ancestors on a remote cattle station, including the courage depicted in this passage:

Everyone went down in the back of the Blitz to the waterhole, the stockmen, Aboriginals, us boys and all, and that was where Alfie yelled.

He pointed out into the waterhole, where we could all see the beady eyes blinking out of the mud.

As the waterholes dried back, in the dry season, the crocs'd bury themselves in the mud near a cattle pad. You always had to look out for crocs before riding a horse into water on a cattle pad.

This was what we were seeing now. The boys raced back to the house for a rifle, and I just stood there, looking into the eyes of the crocodile, my eyes pulsing with excitement, daring it to leap up and bite me.

I was tough. We all were. We weren't scared of a big old croc.

A poem submitted by junior division winner Ananya Ravi of Franklin traces the broad sweep of India's past, as shared with her by her parents and grandparents, concluding on this note of bright optimism:

Statues of gods made of gold,

Stories continuing to be told.

Music and dance the focus of pleasure,

Carnatic and Hindustani sung for leisure.

To this day, these traditions are there,

People following them everywhere.

I look at the sky to see dark blue,

Like India's past, the weather improved too.

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