Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3772 ..
MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms Porter for the question and for her longstanding interest in matters of multicultural affairs. In particular, I thank her, along with my other colleagues Mr Gentleman and Ms MacDonald, for representing me at a myriad of multicultural events that I have been forced to miss.
The ACT government has many proud key achievements in developing our multicultural community since 2004. These achievements, I believe, have considerably enriched the social, cultural and economic fabric of our city. Our policies, programs and events have been driven through consultation with the very people that they affect.
Over the past four years, we have held many forums, both major and at the grass roots. These include ministerial forums I initiated with Canberrans from identified geographical areas across the globe, such as South American and Spanish speaking communities and Middle Eastern communities. These face-to-face meetings fed into the multicultural summit, a very successful and significant consultation which I hosted in December 2005. Personally, I attend many hundreds of events each year where I meet with community leaders and the Canberrans they represent.
The 2006-09 ACT multicultural strategy evolved out of these discussions. The strategy encompasses 10 major themes, including access and equity, cultural and religious acceptance, language policy and leadership and governance. And it has been implemented through key projects addressing the concerns and issues identified from within communities.
The ACT government will shortly be hosting another multicultural summit. This summit, three years on, will provide an opportunity to stock-take and address emerging issues. I believe the summit will provide a solid foundation for the development of the 2009-12 multicultural strategy. Facing up to racism, a strategic plan addressing racism and unfair discrimination 2004-08, is a component of this strategy.
The initial achievement of developing a policy paper addressing racism has been completed by the ACT government’s reporting through two report cards, one in 2006 and now in 2008. These two report cards highlight the positive actions and energy that the ACT government agencies put into assisting people in Canberra to live a happier and harmonious life, minimising the incidence and effects of racism.
As I said in my introduction, I am particularly proud of our achievements over the past four years to enhance multiculturalism in the ACT. We have witnessed, for example, a considerable development of the national multicultural festival which continues to be Canberra’s annual premier cultural event. Individuals and groups of all ages and nationalities participate in the 10-day long festival by performing, volunteering, hosting a stall at the food and dance spectacular or simply by attending events.
Research we have conducted shows overwhelming support for the festival across the whole community and for the opportunity it offers to showcase our diversity. The 2008 festival was enhanced by the guidance received from a steering committee of