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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1502 ..


good points. I would still insist that a letter containing those points would be an important show of support for the many residents in Canberra who would support it.

I believe Australians have a legal right to return home. They have a right to be reunited with their family and their friends. Threatening Indian Australians who want to return with massive fines and jail time is just wrong. It is time to bring them home.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (4.38): I take this opportunity to acknowledge the worsening COVID-19 situation in India and South Asia. I acknowledge the profound loss and grief currently being experienced in India and South Asia, and I thank Ms Orr for her motion.

The scenes we see in the media and the sheer numbers of cases and fatalities in India right now are devastating. I want to acknowledge the impact that this is having on our Indian community here in Canberra, many of whom have family and friends in India and South Asia. The distress and hardship being experienced by Indian Australians here in the ACT, and across the country, are visceral.

India and Australia have a strong, close and enduring relationship across trade, defence, culture, education and fundamental values. Our city is privileged to have such an energetic and active Indian community, one which is integral to Canberra’s rich multicultural way of life.

Like my colleagues, I add my voice and condolences to communities in India and South Asia and their families and friends. Please know that our ACT community is here to support you, because we support our friends. If you or someone you care about is struggling, there is always support available.

In particular, I acknowledge the organisations which are coordinating efforts to support the Indian community here in Canberra, including the India Australia Association of Canberra and the Federation of Indian Associations of ACT, which many of us know as FINACT.

These organisations are using their skills, connections, experience and passion to advocate for, and meet the needs of, our broad and diverse Indian community. They are supporting people experiencing loss and raising funds to send across to India for much-needed supplies and equipment and general support. Most importantly, they are bringing the community together at a time when it is most needed.

I, along with many MLAs, was pleased to provide support to the India Australia Association of Canberra this past Sunday at the Gungahlin town centre barbecue, the first of many events it intends to hold.

I would also like to recognise the continuing support of many other community organisations, including, but not limited to, Legal Aid ACT, the multicultural hub, MARSS and the Red Cross. These organisations are reaching out and into the Indian community to provide support, whether it is legal, financial or wellbeing support or


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