Page 857 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015

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It is also fair to say that, as a major employer, the ACT government has a role to play in its employment practices. We have discussed in this place before, of course, the respect, equity and diversity framework which each directorate has in place. The ACT government has a range of employment strategies which seek to increase diversity, but I think it is fair to acknowledge that if we look at some of the figures in annual reports there is more work to do in that space. Of course, the government has a range of other inclusion strategies.

It is fair to say that social inclusion is not all about government and it is certainly not just about supporting identified at-risk groups in our community who are at risk of exclusion, although they do, of course, form the basis of targeted programs. It is actually also about building a city that facilitates community engagement at a host of levels and provides opportunities for people to feel connected.

We all know that social isolation can come from being new to a place, living in a city where you do not have family and friends in abundance and where it is difficult to achieve connectedness. I know people have said that before about Canberra. That anecdotal evidence will always involve both sides of the story—that Canberra is a hard place in which to get to know people. I have met people who say, “No, it’s great. I’ve come here because it’s a transient population and people are always looking to make new friends.”

Overall I believe Canberra is a city where people reach out to each other and where there are a plethora of community and social activities that facilitate community connectedness. Whether it is joining one of the ACT’s many sporting clubs or cultural or arts groups or the numerous local events and festivals held throughout the year, or the many community organisations that support more disadvantaged people—charities and the like—there are plenty of opportunities for people to reach out and meet new people, form supportive relationships and be part of this city.

Within TAMS the government supports our Parkcare groups where people come together to undertake work in our nature reserves and to participate in a community activity and meet with like-minded people. In reality, the Parkcare groups do most of it; the TAMS rangers just do a little bit of facilitation along the way.

I thought about what other things TAMS does in this space to make it happen. TAMS supports community gardens where people come together with a focus on growing food, while getting some exercise and having a chance to socialise. Dog parks are in a similar vein. You probably do not think of dog parks as a social inclusion initiative, but there are stories that I and many members have heard about the dog parks over the years. I think we have even had our first dog park wedding, or at least it originated a wedding, in the ACT, involving people who met at the dog park. It is funny to think about the things than can provide those opportunities for social inclusion.

Certainly, from a Greens perspective, we are passionate about creating an urban landscape that encourages people to connect. We strongly support active and public transport for this reason, as well as reasons to do with sustainability.

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