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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1467 ..

MR BRADDOCK: Minister, what is the government doing to actively promote the retention and development of people’s multilingual skills?

MS CHEYNE: The government is doing quite a bit, including supporting community language schools. Since 2012, we have provided annual grants to over 40 ACT community language schools. The ACT government’s investment in community language schools is over $275,000 annually. Just this past week I was very pleased to be the chief guest at the Canberra Tamil School’s pearl jubilee, celebrating 30 years of teaching students, which is almost entirely volunteer-run. It is a fantastic example of ensuring that we are keeping language alive in the ACT and, of course, that is one of the traditional classical languages that have been in unbroken existence for millennia.

DR PATERSON: A supplementary. Minister, the multicultural recognition act seems to be one way that multilingual Canberrans are able to be recognised. How can Canberrans have their say on the development of the act?

MS CHEYNE: I thank Dr Paterson for the question. Regarding the multicultural recognition act, we released the discussion paper and the 14 associated fact sheets with that just the other month. We have been very pleased with the take-up that we have had so far, with people right across the community participating. We have said right throughout this process that we really want this act to be community owned and that it needs to be reflective of what the community wants to see for the future of multiculturism here in the ACT. There is a live YourSay survey. Again, that discussion paper and the fact sheets help guide what people’s thoughts might be there. We have also been conducting public workshops. There are six of those. One of them is actually being conducted today and a final one is being conducted next week.

Reconciliation Day—events

MS ORR: My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Many Canberrans will be looking forward to Reconciliation Day on 31 May. How is the ACT government supporting the community to mark this important public holiday?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her question and her ongoing interest in reconciliation, an interest I am sure we all share across the chamber. Reconciliation Day is, indeed approaching once again with Canberra’s public holiday falling this year on Monday, 31 May, midway through National Reconciliation Week. Of course, the ACT is the only jurisdiction to have a public holiday to mark reconciliation and to provide people with an opportunity to stop and reflect on the true history of our city, our region and our nation.

Members will recall that last year’s Reconciliation Day was not marked with a public event as it had been in each year since the public holiday was gazetted in 2017. As last year’s Reconciliation Day fell in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic a public event was not considered to be appropriate at that time. Instead, Reconciliation Day was recognised by Canberrans in their own homes through online activities and content.

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