Page 388 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 12 February 2013

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One of our election commitments was that, as a government, we would look at a microcredit scheme for our multicultural community, including supporting the workforce. Microcredit is seen as a very successful program in supporting people to get a hand up and to get on with small business and other activities. We have made a commitment to a microcredit program. We have also made a commitment to enhance our community language schools. We have 45 language schools across the ACT. They are supported by this government to run schools to provide language classes because it is important that mother tongue is kept. As I talk to the community groups, I absolutely recognise, sympathise with and support their keen desire to maintain the mother tongue for their language group. Our community language schools are a very important part in that. We have pledged an extra $100,000 in recurrent funding over four years to the association.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.

MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, I understand that you attended the interfaith formal held as part of the festival. Can you tell me what views you have heard from the participants of the importance of genuine interfaith dialogue?

MADAM SPEAKER: There was a preamble to that one, but there was a preamble somewhere else as well.

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Gentleman for his interest in interfaith matters. We did hold at the National Multicultural Festival an interfaith forum. I think it is a natural progression on to our diverse community as we respect our cultures. The forum was organised by the Canberra Interfaith Forum. I would particularly like to thank the main organiser, Dean Sahu Khan, who is the chair of the interfaith forum and a passionate advocate for cultural inclusiveness. The forum was attended by religious communities, among them Baha’i, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, Judaism, Quakers, Sikh, Christianity and even the pagan awareness network.

The chair of the Indigenous elected body, Ron Little, also spoke at the forum. The theme of the afternoon symposium was how can my spiritual tradition contribute to community partnership for the future? I believe such a theme is very timely, not only at the National Multicultural Festival but more broadly.

I want to thank the organisers for making this forum happen in a way that excluded no-one. It can truly lay claim to having been a multifaith event. One of the successes of the forum is that it had no religious component to it, ensuring that no religious group felt excluded. I think that is essential when organising any multifaith activity.

I think we can all learn from the way that the Canberra Interfaith Forum conducted this event and I do hope that they are part of the 2014 Multicultural Festival.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Wall.

MR WALL: Minister, what portion of the festival’s funding was used to secure the celebrities that supported the festival?

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