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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 August 2017) . . Page.. 3298 ..

People of Pacific Islander background currently constitute only 1.3 per cent of the Australian population, slightly less in the ACT, but the Pasifika community is growing rapidly and will reach three per cent in the coming decades. Dr Ng Shiu’s PhD research focused on health and education inequalities for Pacific communities in New Zealand and those inequities are replicated here in Australia. For example, data from the ABS indicates that life expectancy for Pasifika people living in Australia is as low as it is for Indigenous Australians, and young islanders are far less likely than the general population to pursue university education.

This is what makes the work of the Niu Oceania cultural centre so vital. In its few months it has become an important virtual space for Canberra’s diverse islander population to meet together, to learn, to share, to highlight the excellent work being done by many in the territory’s Pasifika community and to provide easy to access pathways forward for those who wish to excel as well. And it is doing so whilst at the same time showcasing and preserving language, culture, arts and values in a vibrant and exciting way.

I congratulate all those involved with Niu Oceania and wish them my very best for much success in the coming months and years.

Cooyong Street mural

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.35): Public art plays a critical role in how we inhabit and characterise our urban spaces. It brings me a lot of joy to walk through the city and see kids laughing as they climb all over the sheep sculptures or exclaiming they have found their favourite comic book character on the walls of Tocumwal Lane. The streets of Canberra are coming alive as local artists build a strong street art scene, injecting colour and flair into otherwise unused spaces.

In June I was proud to represent the ACT government at the opening of our newest mural in the city, painted at the Cooyong Street skate park. For those of you who have not had a chance to see the mural, it is simply bursting with life. It is beautiful, energetic and intriguing in equal measure, teeming with colour and incorporating local flora and fauna. A call for mural designs was put out and was answered by artists from around the country. It is important that public art reflect the values and character of a local community. The community should feel a sense of ownership of public art and embrace its new place in their daily lives.

With this in mind, it was the community that decided what their mural would be. A panel of community members was created to make a shortlist of mural designs. The panel included local youth workers, skaters, In the City Canberra, the Canberra Centre and the ACT government. It was great to see that all the three shortlisted designs included work by Canberra artists. This shortlist was then subject to a public vote. There was a great response from the public, and around 2,400 votes were cast on In the City’s Facebook page, reflecting the pride Canberrans take in shaping what our city looks like.

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