Page 3885 - Week 09 - Thursday, 25 August 2011

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The major issue expressed repeatedly at the forums was the number of people in the festival footprint. For 2012 I have asked that we close off London Circuit and make much better use of that space by reducing the number of stalls in the City Walk area and transferring them to the new space. I am advised that this approach could considerably ease the congestion experienced by some people at the festival. This approach will also be complemented with enhanced rest areas and a significant increase in the number of tables and chairs used by the elderly and young families. An enhanced sanctuary space with additional children’s activities and better facilities for the elderly will also be arranged. The new arrangements for 2012 seek to strike a balance between keeping the atmosphere and making it a pleasant experience for families and those visiting the event.

The festival is owned by all the community. It was wonderful to see representatives from an array of cultural groups and the Rotary Club, the Lions Club and the Red Cross attend the consultation forums and express their interest and views. Many ideas came from the community groups, including having more activities for children. Other suggestions that came forward include better transport arrangements for those attending the event and possibly ACTION buses running special festival-themed trips from town centres to the festival, better use by community groups of vacant stalls leading up to the commencement of the festival, increased capacity for electricity supply, better integration of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander showcase into the festival footprint, better engagement with existing retailers of the city so they can contribute to the event, a special community competition to design the festival poster, more workshops for the community at the event allowing interactive participation in drumming, dancing, comedy and poetry, the promotion of the festival at 2011 Floriade with a view to securing a second visit from attendees back into Canberra in February next year and to make available wheelchairs and other mobility items at the event.

The community has also asked for the return of the multicultural ball. I am delighted that the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum has agreed to organise this event leading up to the 2012 festival. Community meetings have confirmed the progress that this government has made in evolving the event into one of Australia’s leading multicultural celebrations. The government continues to strongly support this community event and applauds the hundreds of community groups and volunteers who participate, along with local businesses and diplomatic missions. I am delighted that Slater and Gordon, LeaseMasters and the Special Broadcasting Service will be additions to our sponsorship stable in 2012, and of course I would like to extend my thanks to all existing sponsors.

At the 2011 National Multicultural Festival many thousands of Canberrans experienced the taste and culture and traditions of some of the wonderfully talented people living in and around Canberra. This was, of course, evident from the wealth of art, information, food, dance and tradition on display. It was wonderful to see the local talent we have and to know that cultural traditions have been passed on and continue to thrive and survive in Canberra. Members would be aware that in the 2011 ACT budget we made an additional $200,000 available for next two years. By incorporating some of these initiatives I am confident that next year’s festival will

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