Page 4234 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 26 November 2013

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Philippines who are doing all they can to improve the situation. Here in Australia we can assist by financially contributing to GK’s efforts. This can be done by visiting and clicking on the link to donate. Tonight there is a fundraising event here in Canberra which is taking the form of a film night at the Commonwealth Club.

Finally, this Sunday the gates of the Philippines Embassy will be open for the annual Pasko sa Canberra, which is hosted by the Filipino Community Council of the ACT. In addition to entertainment, food and variety stalls, games and raffles, there will be an opportunity to contribute towards the Typhoon Yolanda relief efforts. I encourage all members to support the Philippines and the Filipino community in these tough times and to attend Pasko sa Canberra on the weekend.

Rainbow families

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (5.01): Last weekend I had the pleasure of reading a story at Dickson library as part of the rainbow story time, an initiative of this year’s SpringOUT Pride Festival, which celebrates and promotes the inclusion of Canberra’s thriving LGBTIQ community. I joined Paul Nicholson, a children’s educator, to read from popular family children’s story books that include positive representations of rainbow families. On the day I read Todd Parr’s The family book to an enthusiastic group of children and their parents. It is a book that I have read to my own children as a way of helping them understand that all our families are different and that all our families are special.

I was pleased to be representing the Chief Minister at this event because I believe that it is important for the children of rainbow families to hear stories about their own lives and I think it is equally important for all children to know that it is the diversity of our families that makes them unique and special.

There were lots of families there on the day to enjoy the stories and explore Dickson library’s fantastic collection of children’s books. Whilst it was a great turnout, I think the messages of diversity and acceptance that we shared should have a much wider audience. I know many government secondary schools, particularly Canberra High School in Ginninderra, are already running programs and including books that promote LGBTIQ inclusiveness and diversity, but seeing the positive response of the kids at rainbow story time to Todd Parr’s simple and colourful story I think that maybe we should be starting much earlier.

Children encounter diversity from a very young age. I believe that books which help them understand that diversity should play a central role in early childhood education and throughout their school education. The stories we hear as children play an important role in shaping our identities, both as individuals and as a community. I believe that the books that were promoted by rainbow story time are a great foundation for the inclusive society we want all our kids to grow up in.

Rainbow story time was a great reminder that whilst government can remove discrimination from our laws, it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that we build a strong community where everyone is included. I look forward to having the opportunity to support the event in coming years.

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