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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2326 ..


available for their proper functioning as Australians, and Canberrans, especially if they have needs which government can assist with.

There is another issue which I raise in this debate, and it goes to the heart of that access to government services, as well as friendship with those of us who have been in this nation for generations now—that is, the ability to integrate fully as Australians and become familiar with the Australian way of life.

Becoming Australian is a process that I have often heard expressed as taking a generation, which is something that I have often thought we should work on. While identity is a very personal and multifaceted matter, it is something that we can always learn how to better assist people with. We want our new Australians to take great steps forward and we want to be a city that is on the front foot with this process.

To go back a few years, firstly, I was one of those children who went on Saturdays to a community language school. Mr and Mrs Ottavi ran Italian School in North Hobart, in a building called the Italian Cultural Centre, which was a very ancient house next door to the Italian club. We learned language and dance. I have photos of me performing—which I can circulate to members outside of the debate—and dancing at the Italian club in my tarantella cultural uniform. I had to dance with my older brother, which was annoying. Nonetheless, I was learning the movements and the patterns and rhythms and sounds of my mother’s Italian culture. The older generation would praise us for learning and performing. When I felt that I was a bit different to the mainstream Aussie kids at school, I had a tribe and a team behind me saying I was worthwhile and that my mixed cultural background was something to learn about and to celebrate.

Going back a few years earlier, long before I was born, my grandfather arrived in Tasmania alone without his wife, my grandmother Nonna Nicolina, and my mother who was then two years old when he left for Australia. The plan was that after he had been in Australia for about a year, he would have established a home for his family and they could then come and they would be reunited. Grandfather was boarding in a house with some other Italians, doing shift work. He sent the papers for Nonna and mum to come out and he did not hear back. There was no Facebook, no Skype; there probably was not even a phone in his home village in Italy. He waited and waited and every day he would go to the letterbox and sit there and wait for the agreement to arrive that Nonna was going to come.

This went on for months and the postman began to ask him why he was always waiting. He explained in his broken English that he was waiting for a reply that his wife was coming. The postman told him to go to the state parliament down in Salamanca Place in Hobart and ask to speak to his local member. He could not picture how he was going to be allowed to turn up to a place like that without an invitation or a formal appointment. No-one that he knew knew how to make an appointment like that. So he kept waiting at the letterbox day after day, getting steadily more and more depressed.

Eventually, after keeping on at him for weeks and weeks to go to the parliament, the postman got really angry at him and told him in no uncertain terms that he had to go to the parliament. He did not know where it was, but he decided to put on his best


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