Page 3602 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 27 October 2015

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I acknowledge the reference group members who are present here in the Assembly today, and I thank each of you for your work and the significant contributions that each of you have made to this report. I know your work has not stopped with the finishing of this report, and I applaud your commitment to ensure that Canberra continues to be recognised as a diverse, vibrant and multicultural city that welcomes and embraces people from all over the world.

It is essential for younger people to engage in these debates as well, shaping their future, but more importantly it is essential for governments all over the world to engage younger people in shaping policies and politics. I congratulate Jeevan on this achievement and the role he is playing to represent Canberra internationally and wish him well for what I am sure will be a very bright future as a leader in our community.

I would also like to mention the staff of the community participation group from the Community Services Directorate, especially Natasha Dunne and Fiona Muir, who are also here today, for their support of and work with the group. Thank you to the many other representatives of the one Canberra symposium and community members who I have not mentioned but who have generously donated their time and expertise to assist the reference group in its deliberations during the past year.

I am pleased to inform the Assembly that the implementation of many of the recommended actions is already underway or, in some cases, has already been completed. This includes Islamic centres around Canberra who now open their doors to the community each year as part of Ramadan observations locally and nationally. These types of events are not new to our community; however, more opportunities are being provided for interfaith interaction, and are encouraged across the city, with the broader community invited to participate and to gain an understanding of other faiths and cultures and, more importantly, the people who practice those faiths and cultures.

Another action in the report, to provide culturally sensitive opportunities for participation such as gender-specific swimming classes, has proved incredibly popular for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Another action in the report calls for more opportunities for families to participate in recreational activities. The walk together, kite together initiative was enthusiastically supported at the one Canberra symposium last year and will be held on 31 October 2015. Not only will this event be an opportunity for families to come together for the fun flying of kites; it is an opportunity to show support for refugees and create a more welcoming community. Kite flying embodies many culturally significant traditions through the world, including China, New Zealand, Chile, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is often a feature of cultural and community celebrations.

The ACT government is proud to support this event, and I hope it becomes a permanent event in the annual spring calendar. Many local organisations, including Welcome to Australia ACT and the ACT Muslim Women’s Association, are actively promoting this wonderful initiative, which will serve to bring together Canberrans from a variety of culturally diverse backgrounds and encourage a sense of community. I encourage all members of the Assembly to join me in celebrating on the day and to support this event.

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