Page 2895 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 October 2022

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events across our Canberra community. Many of these opportunities have enabled me to connect with the very active community across my electorate and beyond. As shadow minister for multicultural affairs, I believe that in order to understand and represent the unique challenges that certain groups in our communities face, it is important to play an active role in supporting and attending their events.

Last week, for example, I was invited by Mr Hiren Raval and Mr Parag Shah, from the BAPS Hindu community, to tour the construction of the BAPS Swaminarayan mandir—temple—and community centre in Taylor. Upon visiting that construction site the other day, I was honoured to be welcomed in a traditional Indian manner, receiving a tilak-chandlo—the red powder bindi—on my forehead, then having a nada-chhadi—a sacred thread—tied on my right wrist and having a rose garland placed around my neck. I have never looked so good!

I was also fortunate enough to provide a snack for the riders, although it took me two attempts to crack open the coconut that we were offering to them! These riders were cycling to Sydney from Canberra to raise funds for the BAPS charities. I know that they managed to raise just over $4,000 as part of that ride—an amazing effort. After my warm welcome, I, without doubt, believe that the Hindu community in Canberra and the wider region will benefit from the wonderful development of this community centre and temple, as BAPS endeavours to meet the spiritual and community needs of the Hindu community and the broader community.

The collective spirit of these BAPS charity volunteers across Australia aims to serve individuals, families and communities by providing relief through programs and initiatives to support communities living in distress and people with vulnerabilities. Further, BAPS charities not only strive to help those suffering and in need, but also focus on increasing the overall health and wellness of everyday Australians. Over the years, BAPS has made a tremendous contribution in promoting understanding of diverse cultures while simultaneously offering consistent community support.

I have had great pleasure in getting to know the BAPS and Hindu community in Canberra, and I want to thank them for their many contributions to our community. The centre’s construction is due for completion in about 12 months’ time. I am very much looking forward to attending the opening of this, and to continuing to work with them.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 5.30 pm.

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