Page 4722 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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Australian Philippine Adoptees Festival

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.17): On Saturday, 1 October I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Australian Philippine Adoptees Festival. The festival was the brainchild of Michael Murphy, a Canberra father of two adopted daughters from the Philippines, who had long held the desire to bring together Filipino adoptees from around Australia so that they could reconnect with each other, especially those who came from the same caregiving homes, and provide an opportunity for them to make new relationships.

In 2009 Michael came up with what he described as a crazy idea, but everyone whom he dealt with in the Filipino adoptee association saw the potential and they started working towards the festival. The festival came to fruition on the October long weekend, and Minister Burch was also in attendance along with representatives of the office of children and young people and the commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department. The festival was attended by 58 families from across Australia, including the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia, 87 adoptees were there—212 people in total—and 35 care-giving homes from the Philippines were also represented. It gave administrators of the caregiving homes who had facilitated the adoptions to Australia the chance to see where the children that they had cared for had ended up. It was a most heart-warming experience.

The event was a festival—it was not a conference; it was not a talkfest; it was an opportunity for children and their families to get to know each other and make connections. The opening program which I had the pleasure of attending was enhanced by the involvement of the Rondanihan music group of the ACT and the ACT Filipino Australian Social and Cultural Association dance group. They engaged the assistance of the organisation Couples for Christ, who provided afternoon tea for the occasion.

I want to pay tribute to the organising committee, including Michael Murphy and Jocelyn Kidd, who were the organisers here in the ACT. The organisation wants me to pass on their grateful thanks for the funding through the ACT multicultural grants from the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs. They received assistance from the Adoptive Families Association, and they also raised extra funds through the sale of T-shirts and cookbooks.

The general realisation that this was such a fantastic outcome means that there will be a second Australian Philippine Adoptees Festival in 2013 on the long weekend in October at the Gold Coast. Jocelyn Kidd, one of the organisers, told me about one of the young adoptees who is now 18 and who had come with his family from South Australia but had been a somewhat reluctant participant. But she said at the end of it he left with a new love for his Filipino heritage and a great pride in who he was.

It is very heart warming to see the great love and affection between the adopted children, their adopted families in Australia and the great connections that they made with the caregivers that had provided assistance to them when they were young children. I congratulate the Australian Philippine Adoptees Festival on their

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