Page 2025 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 June 2015

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Back in 2011, I said in my inaugural speech in the Assembly that reconciliation will be the nation-building task of this century—a nation building that redefines what is Australia and what it means to be an Australian, a nation at one, without shame, embarrassment or the anger of dispossession, when non-Indigenous Australians can draw upon that 40,000 years of Indigenous culture as their heritage and their history.

I congratulate CIT on the ambassador program, which is about commitment to reconciliation. I applaud the incoming ambassadors for the fortitude they have shown in taking a leadership role in reconciliation at CIT.

ACT Fire and Rescue—Nepal visit

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Racing and Gaming and Minister for the Arts) (6.42): I rise to talk about some activity from our Fire and Rescue crews. Last month, on 13 May, I was presented with a framed letter of appreciation from the community fire units within the Khumbu or Everest region in Nepal. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Khumbu community for their kind words and warm gesture and to acknowledge members of our ACT Fire and Rescue for their efforts in supporting that region through the establishment of community fire units.

In mid last year ACT firefighter Geoff Batram received a request for help from some of his friends in the region of Nepal. The request was to help the Lukla community set up a community fire unit to support the local villages. After receiving this request, Mr Batram approached the then chief fire officer for support, and it was agreed that the ACT Fire and Rescue were in a position to donate some equipment that was no longer in use, such as uniforms and hoses.

As the plan to support this small village establish a community fire unit started to progress, a further seven ACT firefighters expressed a desire to support this cause. In addition to Mr Batram, these are the firefighters who put themselves forward: Matthew Buchtmann, Steve Clyde-Smith, Brian Connell, Aaron Kiewiet, Neil Maher, Mark Phillips and Paul Swain.

In March this year this group of eight visited the Khumbu region on their own time and at their own expense to support this worthy cause. This is truly commendable and speaks volumes about the community-mindedness of our ACT Fire and Rescue teams.

In Mr Batram’s own words, when recounting some of the experience:

Our flight landed at Lukla, which the History Channel in 2010 named “the most dangerous airport in the world” and after rejoicing at our safe landing, we went to look at the water system. It was a simple yet incredibly effective system with water pressure in the village only slightly less than we enjoy in Canberra.

The team of eight spent the first morning discussing fire prevention and safety. On the second day they were involved in fire drills. A competitive element was added and the

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