Page 413 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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The prayers on behalf of ancestors reinforced for us an important principle that my husband and I have tried hard to teach all five of our children: it is important to know who you are by knowing and honouring those whom you have come from. We do this in our family by actively researching and writing about our Tongan, Jewish, Dutch and Irish ancestors, and by telling and retelling their stories so that their experiences and wisdom are hopefully not lost.

We can also be enriched by the stories of our fellow Canberrans. Abbot Quang Ba is a remarkable man with an important story. A Buddhist monk in Vietnam, he suffered years of religious persecution, served two jail terms because of his commitment to his faith, and eventually was ordered by the socialist government not to return to his temple, leaving him homeless.

The only way to be true to his conscience was to leave Vietnam and seek a refuge where he could practise his religion without obstruction. Thankfully, in 1983 Abbot Quang Ba was able to escape the country and was accepted into Australia as a refugee. He settled in this beautiful city of ours in 1984 and immediately went to work building up the Buddhist centre in Lyneham.

We can learn much about quiet strength and determination from someone like the abbot and from his experiences. The things we value most in our hearts, for example, are worth defending, but only if we do not violate our values in the process.

The 28th of January this year was the beginning of what is known as the Year of the Rooster. Abbot Quang Ba and so many of our neighbours and friends who have come from the four corners of the world to make Canberra their home exemplify the best traits associated with the rooster in Chinese tradition: confidence, intelligence, energy, honesty and loyalty.

I wish much prosperity, health and happiness to my fellow Canberrans who celebrate the Lunar New Year. May the Year of the Rooster bring much better things for each of you: success in all your endeavours, the fulfilment of your deepest wishes, and harmony and joy for your whole family. May every step take you higher and may you have reasons to often smile!

MS ORR (Yerrabi) (4.26): The Minister for Multicultural Affairs has described the importance of the Lunar New Year festival and how it is celebrated in Canberra, including in the National Multicultural Festival. I wish to put the ACT government’s acknowledgement of Lunar New Year into a broader context—that being Canberra’s multicultural community and how the government is supporting diversity as part of our social inclusion agenda.

Canberra is a truly exciting city, an evolving network of people and communities that celebrates its cultural diversity. Through our work, home and community life, we can see the opportunity diversity creates for each and every one of us. In the 2011 census, the proportion of ACT residents born overseas was 24 per cent, representing over 86,000 usual residents born in over 180 different countries.

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