Page 276 - Week 01 - Thursday, 15 December 2016

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MADAM SPEAKER: Members, it is the first sitting week. Mr Hanson, Mr Doszpot and Chief Minister. Minister, please continue.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Over 20 years the Multicultural Festival has grown from a small celebration of multiculturalism to one of the largest multicultural events in Australia. While Canberrans experience the benefits and success of multiculturalism all year round, the festival is certainly a high point in showcasing our people’s talents and celebrating our diversity.

Next year the Multicultural Festival turns 21. It will be particularly special, with terrific performances from international and home-grown acts as part of the street parade and cultural showcases. These include a Chinese showcase, a Pacific Islander showcase and an African showcase, to name just a few. Of course, Kate Ceberano was recently announced as the headline act for the festival, returning after the success of her participation in the centenary festival in 2013. The 2017 festival will also be special because the food and wine expo will be fully integrated into the event.

Surveys of last year’s attendees found that 99 per cent would recommend the festival to a friend—including all of us, apparently—marking it out as one of the most enjoyable and successful events in Canberra.

Festival organisers continue to strive to make the 2017 festival better, a significant task as the festival continues to become larger and more complex, and I thank them for their work. They are particularly focused on ensuring that next year’s event is inclusive for all and are considering initiatives for children, seniors and people with a disability.

MS CODY: Minister, as someone who is very interested in this subject, how has the planning for the 2017 festival considered the needs of people with a disability who want to participate?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Cody for her supplementary question. I could not be more pleased that disability inclusion is front and centre of planning the Multicultural Festival. Key disability organisations have been consulted to design and deliver improvements to make the 2017 festival more accessible and user-friendly for people with disabilities.

For example, an issue raised in the annual review of the 2016 festival was the use of cable covers and how they affected movement around the festival for people with mobility issues. The 2017 festival organisers are working with the electricity supply contractor and the ACT Emergency Services Agency to examine options to address this issue without compromising safety.

Organisers are also looking at solutions for other issues that were raised including the allocation of disability parking within the festival footprint; identifying and promoting performances that could be accompanied by sign language; getting more people with disabilities involved as volunteers; and updating the festival map to ensure that accessibility information is highlighted, including specialised parking spaces, bathrooms and seating.

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