Page 402 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 17 February 2015

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I am proud that our festival is so strongly supported by volunteers, local businesses and hundreds of community groups and their volunteers. I have to pay special thanks to Nic Manikis, who spent most of the weekend by my side. In fact, on one occasion we were confused as husband and wife. I thank him for his support over the weekend.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, could you provide an outline of the diversity of the communities represented at the festival?

MS BERRY: I thank Dr Bourke for his supplementary question. The ACT government is proud to stage this event, in partnership with our community. There are so many people across our community who contribute to the success of our festival, including community stallholders, performers and artists who work incredibly hard in the lead-up to and during the three days of the festival.

Included in our community are those diplomatic missions based here in Canberra, where the diplomats, their families and staff live and work locally. This year there were 75 countries represented, and their presence demonstrates our festival’s international appeal. In fact, I can say that for the first time I visited Europe, visiting over 28 countries, all in about an hour, at the Multicultural Festival.

Also, organisations such as the ACT Community Language Schools Association and the ACT Bilingual Education Alliance support the next generation of festival goers through the children’s sanctuary and the children’s parade, to harness our kids’ cultural pride by encouraging them to get dressed up and get involved.

The Canberra Interfaith Forum brings together people from a variety of spiritual and cultural backgrounds to discuss and promote social and cultural harmony within our community. Of course, without the over 250,000 people who voted with their feet and visited the festival over the weekend, there simply would not be a festival. So I thank and pay special tribute to the Canberra community, interstate and overseas visitors for their ongoing support for the festival and for the practical way that they help us to embrace, celebrate and cherish our cultural and religious diversity.

I look forward to working with Canberra’s multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities into the future, to build on the good work our festival does in bringing people together and promoting diversity and strength in our city and community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, how did festival organisers work with other ACT government agencies and non-government groups in planning and running the festival?

MS BERRY: I thank Ms Porter for her supplementary question. The work that goes into planning the Multicultural Festival for next year starts the day after the end of this

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