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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 October 2018) . . Page.. 4601 ..


neighbours as they shared with me their beliefs and practices, including their reverence for motherhood.

I am deeply grateful for the wonderful diversity that exists here in the ACT and I offer my very best wishes to all Canberrans whose cultural heritage comes from the subcontinent, as they celebrate important festivals during this joyful time of the year.

International Day of the Girl Child

MS J BURCH (Brindabella) (5.33): Just recently, on Thursday, 11 October, we marked here in the Assembly the International Day of the Girl Child and I was very pleased to mark the day by welcoming to my office an ANU student, Ms Mimi d’Orsonya. Throughout the day Mimi saw firsthand how the Assembly operated, and I really did enjoy discussing a number of issues with her. I learnt a lot from Mimi and her insights as a young, politically engaged person. Mimi chose to participate in the program because she believes that a young woman’s perspectives are vital in matters of governance and in leading their communities to create meaningful change.

During Mimi’s day in my office we discussed opportunities for young women and the important role of classrooms, particularly at tertiary education institutions. Mimi discussed with me the role that respectful relationships in the classroom could play for the next generation of Australian policymakers, engineers, support workers, nurses and teachers. A respectful classroom fosters robust discussion and allows students, one and all alike, to explore academically rigorous topics to increase their knowledge and learning.

University classrooms should not be a place for targeting individuals, making sexist remarks or shutting down their students’ and classmates’ opinions because they may differ from others. Yet, as Mimi and I discussed, sadly some university classrooms can reflect the latter rather than the former, and Mimi and I share a belief that creating a baseline for respectful interactions in a classroom is one way that healthy and academically grounded discussions and mutual respect can be achieved.

When I asked Mimi what was the issue she would like to see in public discourse she raised with me the importance of tackling university classroom culture and that, regardless of the academic discipline, a program to outline respectful relationships in the university classroom would not go astray. Indeed, it would create widespread expectations of acceptable behaviour and create awareness of what gendered behaviour looks like.

Our primary and secondary schools lead the nation in encouraging safe and supporting school environments with programs such as the respectful relationships education program, and that program highlights that creating a dialogue and modelling positive relationships has long-lasting benefits for our society. Such steps are to be commended and will improve the culture in our tertiary institutions as well.

In Mimi’s words, university classrooms possess an unrivalled ability to empower students, change gendered norms and demonstrate appropriate behaviours for students, with long-term effects. She went on to say, “Most importantly, creating and


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