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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 May 1995) . . Page.. 442 ..


and it seems to be missing from this rather slight statement. When Mr Humphries responds he might have a progress report on what is happening across the way. I guess that by this time Mr Humphries has met the committee that was established to provide the guidance for that cultural and heritage centre. I had some consultation with the now Chief Minister on the composition of that committee. I think it is an excellent committee and the Government will, I am sure, benefit from the advice it gives.

I want to take the opportunity of this debate to make some mention of the cultural diversity of the ACT. I am sure that we would all agree that our cultural institutions should reflect that diversity. I am not sure whether that is yet the case across Australia. I am confident, however, that the importance of that is recognised and that governments and institutions, here as elsewhere, will take steps to recognise that diversity. Not surprisingly, it is obvious, as I have moved around, that museums and galleries have an emphasis on the English-speaking part of our culture. That acknowledges, I suppose, the weight of the earlier influences in Australia; but, certainly, we are a bit slower than we ought to be - I say this for my term as Minister - in picking up the great rate of change, particularly since the end of the war. For example, let me mention a point that has been raised with me. We know something about Miles Franklin and her connection with Brindabella. That is well known. In fact, she lived there until the age of 10, then moved further afield and wrote about it many years later. Is that more important, more noteworthy, than the fact that Larry Sitsky has been living in the ACT for 30 years and has been writing world-class music in the ACT? Which is more recognised as a matter of heritage? Which should be more properly recognised as a matter of heritage? I think that simple little story emphasises the point I make about giving due weight to our cultural diversity.

Obviously, in doing this we should look at those groups which are under-represented in our institutions. I think our Aboriginal and Islander culture is still under-represented, even though there have been very strong moves over recent years to change that. The Aboriginal gallery on Acton Peninsula will be part of that. This diversity is no less significant in the ACT than elsewhere because we have slightly more people who were born overseas than the Australian average. When I established that committee I referred to a little while ago I paid very careful attention to the balance of that committee and acted to ensure that there was a very good representation of people who had a non-English-speaking background. It is important to use that expertise that is available in the ACT, and there is much of it. A lot of it is hidden. I have seen, in recent years, quite a range of home crafts, the soft crafts and other work, some of it historic, some of it carried on from traditional backgrounds. It is there. It is not always easy to locate, so we have to make special efforts to do that. There is a UNESCO convention safeguarding traditional culture and folklore. That, I am sure, is in the mind of the committee that has been established for our own cultural and heritage centre, and I am sure that it provides a good blueprint from which to work as we take, I think, positive measures, strong measures, to see that our cultural diversity is acknowledged.

One other matter I will refer to in Mr Humphries's statement is that of oral history. He made passing reference to it. I think we need to do more than that. I would encourage Mr Humphries to provide the resources to the competent historians in our community who are able to go out and collect that oral history. I found from time to time that people seemed to think that it was easily collected; that all you needed was a person


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