Page 3520 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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I wanted to make those comments particularly to congratulate the Western Districts Rugby Union Club on an absolutely superb season and a superb effort.

Vietnamese full moon festival

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.26): I was born in 1942, just in case anybody wanted to know. It was a great pleasure to be present at the celebration of the 2005 Vietnamese full moon festival last Saturday evening. One of the great pleasures for me of being a member of the government is being able to attend such functions. The Vietnamese full moon festival has been celebrated for many hundreds of years and preserves a cultural tradition that was brought to Canberra by Vietnamese migrants and refugees and has been celebrated here for the past 30 years.

It is a joyous occasion, also known as the children’s festival, a beautiful tradition that brings great colour, such as coloured lanterns and traditional dress, and great feasting, including moon cakes—a chance for the whole family to get together. In fact, children are allowed to stay up late. Also at this time they celebrate the harvest festival.

When I attend festivals such as this I am constantly reminded that what unites us as people is much greater than what divides us, and I congratulate the multicultural community of the ACT for the part they play in breaking down the barriers that may exist between different communities. Sharing our cultural heritage is at the core of multiculturalism.

The ACT government is committed to building a stronger community and, as members know, encourages participation in community life, especially in celebrating the culture and diversity of Canberra. So I was very pleased to join with the Vietnamese people in celebrating their tradition and keeping it alive, as they do with the Vietnamese language school, the Vietnamese programming on community radio and their wonderful Lunar New Year celebrations that I was honoured to attend earlier this year.

Multiculturalism is not only about equality and social and cultural life but also economic and political life. I commend the hard work and dedication of the Vietnamese community, and I congratulate them for their contributions to the development of the cultural, political, and economic life of Canberra. It is issues and events such as these that make Canberra the vibrant and rich multicultural community it is.

I am very pleased that the ACT government is able to provide some support for these initiatives through the multicultural grants program and, most recently, through the establishment of the new multicultural centre. I am very pleased to mention here that the first of the peak multicultural bodies, the Migrant Resource Centre, moved into the new multicultural centre recently. I was at the MRC AGM last week, and the staff were delighted to be able to move into their new home.

By the end of November, the ACT Vietnamese Community in Australia ACT Chapter will also be moving into the new centre. I know that their president is very pleased about this because he has been running the organisation from his dining room table, rather similar to what I used to do with Volunteering ACT when it first started.

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