Page 711 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 5 April 2022

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Sustainable Building and Construction) (10.43): I rise today to talk about heritage, and why looking back at our city’s past is important for our city’s future. The impetus for this ministerial statement today is that the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival is back for its 39th year, celebrating the historic, natural, diverse cultural heritage of all people in the ACT and region. The festival is an excellent way to understand how the territory has got to where it is today, and to pause to think about where we are going as a city and community.

We know that a sense of place that heritage provides helps us to know where we have come from, it defines our identity and gives the community a sense of pride and connection contributing to our wellbeing. Reflecting on the past enables us to enter the future with the wisdom of understanding the triumphs and challenges we have faced, and how these prepare us for a future that, while uncertain, provides opportunities and challenges.

With this year’s festival theme of “curiosity”, the varied and diverse program of more than 150 events on offer helps us to do just that, with something for everyone from all walks of life. Curiosity is a powerful force underpinning our desire for discovery, inquiry and simply our urge to know. I am naturally curious, and have always been driven by my curiosity. Curiosity gets people excited and motivated, leading us to new solutions and collaborations. I believe that it is very important at this moment in our city’s history.

Something that I am excited about—and it has become a bit of a joke with some of the younger staff in my team—is getting more people excited about heritage. In that vein, for the first time ever, we have introduced kids week to pique the curiosity of all ages. Running through the school holidays, kids week focuses on family-friendly, fun events that will entertain kids during the holidays and give them an opportunity to learn about Canberra’s unique history and heritage.

Another thing I have endless curiosity about and passion for is Ngunnawal heritage, because when we think about the heritage in this region, we must recognise that this heritage stretches back millennia. The stories of the Ngunnawal people are the first stories of our region, and we have much to learn from these about how we respect and care for this beautiful country that we get to call home. Opening our minds and our hearts to understanding the journey of our First Nations people is an important step in our journey of healing of a nation, and a vital part of the truth telling that we must undertake down the path to treaty.

I am really proud that, this year, we have tripled our First Nations heritage events, with 21 opportunities for Canberrans to explore the rich Ngunnawal history in the territory. There is still time for you to join the Winanggaay Ngunnawal Language Aboriginal Corporation to learn Ngunnawal greetings and children’s songs, learn how to make and throw spears and boomerangs with our Aboriginal rangers, or visit the oldest heritage site in the ACT, the Birrigai rock shelter.

There has been greater co-design and collaboration with the Dhawura Ngunnawal Caring for Country Committee, resulting in the festival’s incorporation of Ngunnawal artwork—a beautiful piece by Lynnice Church—and a foreword in the program by

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