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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 February 2015) . . Page.. 424 ..

Faith early on understood the racial discrimination that Aboriginal people in the district experienced. She identified with their cause throughout her life.

In World War II she served in the Women’s Land Army but was paid at the lower rate of pay for Aboriginal recruits. After the war, she married Hans Bandler, a Jewish refugee whom she met through the left-leaning Australian Peace Council. He had survived Nazi concentration camps and supported her subsequent campaigns against discrimination in Australian society.

Faith Bandler’s legacy lives on in many areas, including the “Recognise” campaign, which seeks recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution. It builds on the achievements of the 1967 referendum. It will complete the unfinished business, recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first nations of Australia, placing them at the heart of the constitution, not just as an afterthought of 1901.

While the 1967 referendum gave the commonwealth powers to legislate in relation to Aboriginal peoples, there is no guarantee that this must be used to their benefit. We would like this corrected in the next referendum. There is a better understanding now in our multicultural nation of our shared history. We need to redress the damage done. We need to recognise the special place of the first nations that nurtured this country for millennia.

I believe we can build on the goodwill in the community we found almost 50 years ago in that 1967 referendum and bring about a fairer constitution recognising our first peoples.

National Multicultural Festival—success

MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (4.38): I stand today to reflect on and echo the comments made earlier today about the Multicultural Festival in Canberra. I want to say thank you to Yvette Berry, the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, and to all the organisers and volunteers at the Multicultural Festival, for their long hours, hard work and genuine commitment not only to the festival but also to the essential idea of multiculturalism.

I recall the festival in my early years in Canberra very fondly. Its growth and continuing success are a reflection of the approach this ACT Labor government has taken to the overall growth and continuing success of our community. At its heart it recognises the strengths in our diverse and tolerant community and enables that community to express itself with just the right amount of ACT government support.

One of the things I found so remarkable about the festival was the many faces, backgrounds and ages of those who participated, visited and celebrated. It celebrated our own multicultural community from second and third-generation Canberrans to recent arrivals and also involved the embassies and high commissions in Canberra, a unique and cherished part of our multicultural community.

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