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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1490 ..

(e) that many members of the Canberra Indian-Australian and South Asian community have lost family members and friends to the recently worsened crisis;

(f) that many members of the community have friends and family members who are sick with COVID in India and South Asia;

(g) that this is a really difficult time for the community as a whole and the individuals who make up the community, with many experiencing significant distress at being so far away from loved ones;

(h) that this trauma has been compounded by the Commonwealth Government decision to halt citizens’ return from India specifically, with harsh penalties, when this has never been applied to citizens in other nations with bad outbreaks; and

(i) after public pressure the Federal Government will allow citizens and permanent residents to be safely accommodated through the federal facility at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory from 15 May, where there has been no external COVID transmission;

(2) acknowledge the pain and trauma being faced by the Canberra Indian-Australian and broader South Asian community;

(3) write to the Commonwealth Government expressing:

(a) the need for expanded, improved and federally funded quarantine facilities like that at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory;

(b) concern with the insensitive approach taken by the Commonwealth Government to use the Bio-Security Act and travel bans in one instance but not others; and

(c) a desire to see the Commonwealth affirm the commitment to citizen’s fundamental right to return home to Australia; and

(4) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) provide information to the Indian and South Asian communities in Canberra regarding where they can contact for advice and support on ACT Government services, including where to access counselling services;

(b) consider, along with state and federal counterparts, what medical supplies and assistance can be provided to health workers in South Asia;

(c) continue to work with the Indian and South Asian communities in Canberra to provide support as this changing situation evolves; and

(d) provide an update back to the Assembly on the outcomes of this consultation and subsequent action at an appropriate time.

I rise today to speak in support of the motion moved in my name on the notice paper. The last 18 months or so have seen an unprecedented series of difficult, stressful and damaging events in the lives of many, many, Canberrans: starting with the bushfires, smoke, and subsequent hailstorm, then quite suddenly transitioning into dealing with a pandemic. I am proud of how the community has handled these immense challenges, supported each other and those from outside the territory needing help. However, it has not been easy.

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