Page 3603 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 27 October 2015

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Many more examples can be given, and I look forward to reporting back to Assembly members as we progress. However, what is really important for this Assembly to note about this report is its uniqueness as a whole-of-community action plan. It will help us build and promote a community identity based on a set of values that have been defined by and for all Canberrans where the government, the community, local organisations and businesses have all worked together.

The reference group has been careful in its deliberations to ensure that the recommended courses of action in the report complement existing programs across the community and maximise the opportunities to empower those who feel disempowered, in particular, youth and ethnic and cultural communities; provide platforms for interaction for those with a lack of a strong voice; support efforts to foster and strengthen community cohesion and understanding; provide support and care to those most vulnerable; provide greater access to government and community sector information for those with linguistic or cultural barriers; and celebrate the cultural diversity of the Canberra community and the richness and strength that it provides.

The report contains actions that contribute to or enhance celebrating our diversity, community leadership, community cohesion and engagement, cultural and religious acceptance, youth engagement, social justice and community policing, gender, welfare and accessibility of information and services.

The need for targeted reports to preserve, strengthen and celebrate Canberra’s diversity and multicultural successes was highlighted initially by the participants of the one Canberra symposium last year. The actions contained in the report are consistent with the three key principles that the ACT government is committed to: diversity and multicultural success is worthy of celebration; celebrating diversity and multicultural success assists in strengthening existing community cohesion; and community cohesion and engagement are key to resisting those voices that seek to undermine or challenge the values of our Canberra community.

The ACT government and the One Canberra reference group are universally committed to core principles of acceptance, diversity and community engagement as essential components of both a successful and also a rich and open social landscape for Canberra. Canberra is a community where people going about their daily lives work to make other sure people feel welcome and valued, where their difference is respected and where they experience equality.

This report, and the activity and change it will generate, will make Canberra an even more inclusive community by giving people the opportunity to get involved and help other people feel even more connected and more welcome. The benefits of investing in small, community-driven programs such as those developed by the one Canberra symposium are enormous, and this report shows that as a community we are taking responsibility for making inclusion a real thing. Governments certainly have a role to play in this, but it is the responsibility of each of us as individuals to take each other as we are and say “Welcome”, regardless of our different backgrounds and our beliefs.

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