Page 4779 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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which she has been quite rightly honoured by being awarded the Order of Australia. Indeed, I think this Assembly is considerably enriched by her presence.

Human Rights Day

DR FOSKEY (5.43): On Human Rights Day, which was last Saturday, there were a number of things a person could do in Canberra. Of the multitude of events, I chose to attend first a bazaar in Glebe Park on Saturday morning which was organised by the Arab-Australian Women’s Association. At that bazaar there was an absolute feast for the eyes and other senses, particularly the senses of smell and hearing, of crafts and other products from Middle Eastern or perhaps I should say Arab countries. Perhaps most wonderful of all was a choir consisting of about 14 men from Sydney who sang to traditional Arab music. It was absolutely fantastic.

I commend that group of women, which included Winifred Rosser, who was, I believe, a Liberal candidate for Brindabella, Diana Abdul Rahman and many other women who probably should be named but whose names I am afraid I do not know. This is going to be a regular event and I really look forward to that. I also attended the afternoon session of the all-day event, which was the multicultural summit arranged by the minister and officers from the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services.

Mr Quinlan: They were from the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

DR FOSKEY: They were from the Office of Multicultural Affairs. I thank the member for drawing attention to my slip. I feel that a great number of positives can come from that summit and from the community itself. I have a number of friends in the multicultural community, particularly women who are active in it, and I was pleased to see them there on the day. Of course they were not backward about their desire to assist in the community development role that the multicultural council, or whatever follows it, might have. I believe something needs to come out of that. I believe it is not necessarily good politics just to talk individually with communities, because it may set them against each other.

The events at Cronulla perhaps were a great warning. Of course, the causes were much more complex than can be discussed here. They indicate that we absolutely must be talking to young people when we talk about the ways in which we assist the multicultural community in organising itself. Young people do not always have the same views as the people who leap to leadership in these groups. They are often ignored and not spoken for. Many of them were born in this country, some in this city, and they have things to say that must be heard.

Finally, I put in a plea that we also talk to the women in the multicultural community whose whole lives are involved in community development at the family level, in their local residential communities and also within their ethnic communities, and hear their plea that we work to build bridges between different ethnic groups. We do not want to encourage the silo approach to multiculturalism. The word “multiculturalism” is just that. Not only is it about recognising the diversity of the ACT culture; it is also about recognising that we too are part of our community and building bridges between groups and between the non-English speaking background people. One way to do that is to set up discussions on issues such as the new terrorism laws.

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