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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3353 ..

COVID-19—Indian-Australian community support—government response

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (2.59): Pursuant to standing order 211, I move:

That the Assembly take note of the following paper:

Canberra Indian-Australian community—Support—Government response, pursuant to the resolution of the Assembly of 13 May 2021.

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) (2.59): The government response to the Assembly resolution of 13 May 2021 regarding the Canberra Indian-Australian community has been tabled. I acknowledge the serious COVID-19 situation in India and South Asia, as well as the profound loss and grief being experienced in those regions and in Indian and in South Asian communities here in Australia. I would also like to acknowledge the distress and hardship being experienced by Indian-Australians here in the ACT.

Over time, a strong, close and now longstanding relationship has been forged between India and Australia across areas including trade, defence, culture and education. The Indian community contributes to a rich multicultural way of life in the ACT, and I know that Canberrans appreciate that our city is a more vibrant place by having many different cultures call Canberra home.

On 27 April 2021, in response to escalating cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant in India, the Australian Minister for Health announced a temporary pause on direct flights from India for two weeks to 15 May 2021. At the time of the pause, India was in the middle of a national emergency and was, distressingly, reporting more than 300,000 new cases of COVID-19 daily and, tragically, daily deaths were in the thousands. Although the daily new-confirmed cases in the tens of thousands are still relatively high, thankfully they have significantly declined.

Although the flight pause aimed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading to Australia via international travel, it also resulted in significant distress and hardship for Indian Australians in the ACT, many of whom have family in India and broader South Asia. The ACT government is committed to supporting Indian Australians especially through these times of adversity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Community Services Directorate is working in partnership with community organisations who are reaching out to the Indian-Australian community to provide support, whether it is legal, financial, wellbeing or food and housing. I would especially like to acknowledge the work that local organisations are doing to support the Indian community in Canberra through these challenging times. In particular, the India-Australia Association of Canberra and the Federation of Indian Associations of

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