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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 August 2016) . . Page.. 2535 ..

children, there are several barriers that make it difficult for her to access English language classes, the first being access to suitable child care. If a woman is the sole carer for her children during the day and she has no support for child care, getting to English language classes is difficult.

The second barrier for a woman at home to access English language classes is simply the unreliability or complication of using our public transport system. If she is not able to find suitable child care and the classes are not easily accessible, it is more likely she will not be attending English classes and improving her skills. Without these skills, newly arrived Australians and those waiting to become Australians are at a significant disadvantage to access all that Australia has to offer.

This is not a concern just for our multicultural community. It is also a concern for women in our city. As policymakers we must look at ways that these barriers can be removed so that migrant and refugee women can learn to further develop their English language skills and access the workforce, or all that is available to them within our community will not be theirs to use. Without strong English language skills, these women can feel alone and isolated. This can lead to depression or other mental health concerns, as well as a lack of feeling of belonging, or that Australia or Canberra is their home or can be their home.

The last area I want to speak to in dealing with multiculturalism is the National Multicultural Festival. The festival is a great event in the calendar here in Canberra. We are fortunate to be able to showcase so many different cultures across one weekend. We appreciate the broad range of stalls, from the embassies and high commissions to the ethnic community groups, the dance groups and, of course, the wonderful array of cultural foods and colours.

We are fortunate here in Canberra to be home to so many multicultural groups, and our city is richer for it. However, several multicultural community groups have expressed concern over the years about the commercialisation of the festival, with the view of some being that the big corporate vendors are taking much of the multicultural feel out of the festival. However, it is wonderful that we have had this multicultural festival for 20 years. I think we need to ensure that the festival remains a multicultural event and never ends up being run predominantly for the benefit of big corporate vendors.

I applaud much of what the government has done in this space and what the government supports through this budget in the area of multicultural affairs. I think there is always more we can do. I would like to see some work from the ACT government in the area of deradicalisation. Just because we are a small jurisdiction, it does not mean that we could never have a problem. It would be good to know that there are people out there trying to do what we can in that space.

Wearing my hat as the shadow minister for women, I am pleased to stand and speak about the importance of this area. In the time that I have been here in the Assembly the Labor government has seemingly reduced somewhat services to women, certainly their visibility. According to the ABS stats, Australia’s female population hit

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