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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4047 ..



going to do something about it. We have yet to see anything really occur there. A lot more can be done for our multicultural community by this current government, not the least of which being a little bit more temperate and cautious in how it deals with the community and in what it says. On that note I will conclude.


(4.53): It is a bit strange that a community gets divided into the ordinary community and the multicultural community as if there were Anglo-Australians and then multicultural people. Often, when you go to multicultural events, workshops or culturally sensitive training, and so on, it is on the whole Aboriginal or non-English speaking background people who are there.

There is a tendency for us, as part of the dominant culture, to talk about the "other"when we are talking about the multicultural community. A concern has been expressed to me by people from various backgrounds in the Canberra community that there is a sense that it is up to them to learn from us, not up to us to learn from them. That is a general comment I would make. If we do not include ourselves very much in the notion of a multicultural community, then we have got a problem to begin with.

It is fine for Mr Pratt to raise this, although he is obviously using it as an opportunity to make other political points. It is important for us to work together with people from all backgrounds in our community. I embrace within the multicultural community cultures that are associated with other groups, such as the gay and lesbian community and people with a disability, because they have a different cultural experience of living in Canberra as well. In our society there is now much more opportunity for us to acknowledge the difference and experience that people have in Canberra, which are dependent on many things, not just ethnic background, language or religion.

Among the comments made by Mr Stefaniak, I would agree that, on the whole we do pretty well in terms of having a reasonably accepting community. But we have a long way to go. I know through my committee work, as well as through my relationship with many people from different backgrounds, that racism is alive and well in Canberra. It particularly shows itself in the schools, and children will be the ones who bear the brunt of it. It obviously comes from their homes; there is certainly something going on there.

After September 11, members may remember that I organised White Ribbon Day in Civic Square. That was in response to anxious calls from Muslim people-women, on the whole-who were extremely distressed about the victimisation their children were experiencing, as well as the women themselves, if they identified themselves as Muslim through their clothing.

Through the various committee inquiries I have chaired or participated in, I am well aware that Aboriginal people suffer racism in our community generally and in our schools, so I think Mr Stefaniak is painting a bit of a glossy picture there. To work with questions of racism requires strategy, public education and community education and a real focus in schools. It is through civic education that we emulate an inclusive society.

I am interested in Mr Pratt's argument that somehow Mr Stanhope has failed in promoting an inclusive society because he has criticised the Prime Minister. I think this is his argument. I am sorry if it is wrong, but he can clarify. Mr Stefaniak is also saying

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