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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1601 ..


The settlement grants program targets migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants who have lived in our community for less than five years. Just some of the services offered through this program include assistance in finding housing, understanding the health system, accessing health and education services, banking and financial services and providing emotional support, respect and understanding.

Through its community development program, MARSS helps to provide English tuition and even computer classes to hundreds of new migrants. A lack of essential computer skills is one of the greatest barriers to gaining employment in our increasingly high-tech society. I am pleased to see MARSS, in conjunction with the Australian National University, is seeking to address these issues.

Furthermore, MARSS also runs an after-school studies program to provide support to young migrants and the children of migrants, with such tasks as learning to adequately read and write. Their good afternoon program educates about the benefits of physical exercise and the importance of healthy food preparation—and all this at no cost to the individuals concerned.

Perhaps the most encouraging of all is the community leadership development program. The program aims to develop skills and confidence in individuals who wish to play a leadership role in our community. It seeks to develop leadership in some of Canberra’s fastest growing communities, namely, the Karen, Sudanese, Afghani, Iraqi and Sri Lankan communities.

I had the great pleasure to witness the success of this program last night. I was fortunate enough to attend the graduation ceremony of those who participated in the leadership development program this year. Eighteen people were presented certificates. The function was held at the MARSS office in the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre just next door. It was a fantastic evening. I would also like to note the successful end-of-year event which was held in December last year which I also attended and enjoyed.

MARSS do great work. But, like any organisation, it would not be possible without a dedicated team of staff so committed to the wellbeing of the individuals. I would like to commend the manager, Dewani Bakkam, and her current and recent team members, Sisira Jayawardana, Karen Holas, Yolanda Turini, Andrew Kazar, Nadia Osman, Tathira Fatema, Annie Vella, Bronwen Roberts, Stella Battenberg, Helen Hawes, Jacky McLoughlin, Marilyn Crabb, Vivien Arnold, Barnaba Bol, Tha Wah K’lster and Margaret McCulloch.

I would also like to congratulate the board, whose tireless oversight ensures the continued success of their worthy organisation. I congratulate the chair, Jim Andriopoulos, and deputy chair, Adrian Arulanandam, and their fellow board members, John Owusu, Nim Osborne, David Ng, Sally Kalek, Isaac Cotter, Sam Wong, Gemo Virobo and Raewyn Bastion.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I thank every volunteer who has so generously contributed countless hours to see that life is just that little bit easier for the newest


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