Page 38 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016
For the past 20 years I have had the privilege and the honour of working with some of Canberra’s most courageous people. I still remember the young single mother who, around this time of year a few years ago, came to receive some assistance through a Christmas appeal. She apologised that she was a day late for her appointment and then indicated that the reason that she was a day late was because she had given birth the previous day. But she was still determined to receive the assistance that was being provided through that appointment because without it her family would not be celebrating Christmas at all.
I still remember the work around 10 years ago to establish a Muslim women’s playgroup because they had been clearly identified as the most socially isolated group of people in our community, and it was our response—a privilege, an honour and a response that we needed to make—that ensured those who were most isolated were included.
I still remember the experiences of the young man, a single father, who, for several weeks, lived out of his car with his two young children because as he moved interstate to Canberra his promised employment had evaporated and he could not afford the rental bond on the property that he had arranged.
More broadly than with individual people, I value the privilege of having worked in the areas of advocacy, awareness and education, such as anti-poverty week, and of grounded policy reform in the community inclusion board, the targeted assistance strategy and the better services task force. And while I have learnt that we may each see the world differently, I have also become increasingly convinced that it is the responsibility of those of us who hold and exercise power in a civilised and compassionate society to ensure that we are seeing and hearing from the perspective of others in the community and not just from our own perspective.
Madam Speaker, I offer a third view on that saying—that “we see the world not as it is, but as we are”. It may well be that I cannot fully see the world in the way that others do, but here today I commit myself to continue to look, and to look harder. For I am convinced that it is our responsibility here to ensure that the perspectives of those who may not otherwise be seen are seen. It is our responsibility here to ensure that the wisdom of those who may not otherwise be heard is heard. And for however long I have the privilege of sitting in this Assembly, I will remain dedicated to that task.
I am deeply aware that I have not reached this point by my own efforts; so it is right that I express my gratitude to those who have helped me so fundamentally in reaching this point. I thank my encouragers and mentors, Jon Stanhope and Katy Gallagher, and Andrew Leigh, whom I acknowledge here today, for the nudges, cajoles and pushes, along with encouragement and support. I thank the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, and the Deputy Chief Minister, Yvette Berry, and my many ACT Labor colleagues who have welcomed me and worked with me in our joint efforts to build a very strong, progressive team.
Extremely importantly, I thank the people of Kippax and the Belconnen community who have opened and shared their lives with me over the past 20 years. You have