Page 3443 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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As a nation, we have found unity and prosperity in our diversity and respect our differences. While our cultural diversity is a source of great and social economic strength, the contributions of different migrant groups and their families spanning the generations have helped create the Australia we enjoy today. Our success has been built through the efforts and commitment of millions of Australians, unified by our goal of wanting a prosperous future for everyone.

Our sustained success takes effort from individuals, from civil society and from government—we join together to build this prosperity—and from normal people of no particular rank reaching out in kindness and decency towards different types of people. We work best when we work hand in hand. Every day commonwealth and territory agencies are engaging here with communities and forming the vital partnerships we need to continue these partnerships and strengthen and support all Australian communities.

I particularly thank Dr Bourke for this motion. It is a bipartisan area—we both agree basically. In the spirit of respecting and reaching out to diverse groups, I thank him for the grace with which he welcomed a recent group of outstation and rural community Aboriginal people who visited this place recently. As he said, they represent 40,000 years of settlement and are the oldest continuing culture in the world. He did not shut them out or disrespect their unique point of view. I thank you for this motion, Dr Bourke and we support it.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (4.47): I thank Dr Bourke for bringing on this motion and also acknowledge and thank Mrs Jones for her contribution. It is one of those conversations that we have in this place where generally we have agreement. I think that is what makes this particular subject something good to talk about in the chamber.

Canberra is a really great multicultural community. Migrants are central to our city’s make-up, and today people moving here from overseas continue to strengthen Canberra. We have residents from nearly 200 different countries, with almost a quarter of Canberra’s total population born overseas. In the ACT we have a proud history of welcoming overseas visitors, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We value and enjoy cultural diversity and recognise the contribution each person makes to the strength, harmony and vigour of our Canberra’s social, cultural and economic life.

There is no better example of this than our official declaration of Canberra as a refugee welcome zone, the first state or territory jurisdiction to do so. Our declaration builds on many existing government initiatives to support an inclusive community by providing accessible and responsive services to all Canberrans.

This work is reflected in our government’s last multicultural strategy, which sought to ensure that everybody has the ability to reach their full potential and that the ACT embraces the benefits of our city’s culturally diverse community. This strategy supported the ACT government’s directorates to incorporate mainstream multicultural objectives into government policies and to place greater emphasis on Canberra’s ever growing and diverse multicultural community.

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