Page 3998 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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Another 28 relationship centres were announced yesterday for regional areas, with a further 22 to be established in major cities. They are to be set up in 2007 and 2008.

Congratulations to the federal government on that and congratulations to the local government on looking after the Australian Railway Historical Society.

’Round town program

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.19): I rise this evening to speak about the highly successful ’round town program that Canberra Urban Parks and Places have been conducting in the community this year. The program commenced in December 2002 with the aim of providing entertainment for the community while promoting the use of our many beautiful parks and public places.

Last year, an estimated 50,000 Canberrans took the opportunity to enjoy 48 free events that were staged over spring, summer and autumn and provided something for all ages. Time does not allow me this evening to list all of those events, but the program is being conducted again this year and was kicked off with a Father’s Day party at Weston Park that saw thousands attend and participate in activities such as fishing and games of tug of war, and children making the most of the entertainment for the kids. In addition, the highly regarded local band Annie and the Armadillos played their unique mix of rock, blues and jazz, and, of course, there was a magician.

The Father’s Day event was followed by other park parties at Point Hut pond district park in Gordon, Kambah district park, Red Hill park and the Black Mountain peninsula, and last Sunday it was the turn of all of those who live on the north side, at the park in Murranji Street, Hawker. As luck would have it, that is just across the road from me, and I took the opportunity to attend, of course, with my two grandchildren, the eldest of whom was certainly making the most of the face painting and the jumping castle while her parents were able to sit with their friends and be entertained by the local band Blue Skies.

While I moved around the venue, many neighbours approached me enthusiastically and commented about the wonderful opportunity to meet with their fellow residents. Indeed, I was also approached by other families who had come from the surrounding suburbs of Latham, Holt, Scullin, Page and Higgins, and even from Gungahlin, all of whom were anxious to tell me what a wonderful initiative the ’round town program was and how the government should be congratulated for creating this community-building opportunity.

Events such as this create an opportunity that is all too infrequent these days. Many of us are time poor, yet last Sunday I, along with hundreds of others, had the opportunity to meet in a relaxed, family-friendly environment. But, of course, one does really worry about how many of our Sundays will remain a day of rest after the IR legislation is introduced.

One of those I met last Sunday was Peter Harris, a man I have known for many years through his work with Scouts ACT. He was telling me how these events are a way for him to reconnect with his community after the devastation of the 2003 fires and how valuable he finds these opportunities, reaffirming a real sense of community.

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