Page 5535 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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MR SMYTH: Minister, will you now table the submission in the Assembly by the end of today?

MR BARR: Yes, I am happy to do so.

Multicultural affairs advisory body

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs and concerns multicultural advisory bodies. The ACT currently has a Muslim advisory council and a refugee, asylum seeker and humanitarian committee. However, it does not have a general ministerial advisory council on multicultural affairs. The ACT had such a council but the government disbanded it in 2006 and it has not been re-established. Minister, what reconsideration or review have you done on options for reinstituting a permanent ministerial level advisory body on multicultural affairs which would represent the diverse interests of the community?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Hunter for her question. We do have a very strong and vibrant ministerial advisory council for our Muslim community, and broadly the broad multicultural community I think is ably represented through the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum. It is not constituted as a ministerial advisory council but it does function very successfully across the whole range of our communities in Canberra and provides very good service.

As I regularly talk with the chair and other members of that group they provide quite detailed information about what is happening in the communities and about various stress points and points that may need support. For example, it was through them and the Sudanese community that I now will hold a roundtable for the Sudanese community with the business sector here in Canberra, to make a better connection with these new and emerging communities as they come into Canberra and be more embedded in our society.

So there is no formal structure at the moment but I believe that I am ably in many ways supported through the Multicultural Community Forum.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Ms Hunter.

MS HUNTER: Minister, why does the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council have a representative from every jurisdiction in Australia except for the ACT, and what are you doing to address this?

MS BURCH: I think we need to be represented on various forums, as other states are. It is something I will look at and work with the Office of Multicultural Affairs about how we can best progress that.

MS BRESNAN: A supplementary.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Bresnan.

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