Page 3611 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 13 September 2017

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Language Day is firmly enshrined. I know that there were a couple of members of the Assembly who joined in the Mother Language Day walk recently. I have been on walks in the past supporting Mother Language Day and I think it is a great way to celebrate our city’s continued diversity and support for mother languages.

During this year’s annual National Multicultural Festival in February the government funded community organisations such as the International Mother Language Movement through the participation multicultural grants program to promote mother languages to the more than 280,000 people who attended the three-day festival. The festival of course is a shining light each year and the pinnacle celebration of cultural wealth in the Canberra community.

The diversity and inclusiveness of our city makes it a welcoming and interesting place to live and work; something we are all very proud of. It has also made Canberra’s Multicultural Festival a growing attraction for many thousands of domestic and international visitors that we welcome each year, as well as those who come to the capital from other states who are looking for a fresh start.

During the 2011 census, 37 per cent of the ACT population reported either being born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas. Seventeen per cent were born in a non-English-speaking country, which is up from 14 per cent in 2006. So it is very important that we continue to support and create opportunities for individuals to explore and engage with languages tied to their personal cultural heritage, as well as those unfamiliar to them, and it makes good economic sense as well.

An important area that will be explored as part of the impending review of Many Voices, the ACT language policy—which I understand has been outlined by Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith—will be how languages impact on economic development in our city. There is broad recognition of the economic benefit from knowledge of other languages and cultures, as well as strong translating and interpreting skills. This is particularly true in our jurisdiction, where there is an increased economic reliance on tourism, global markets, trade and international education.

Our community is home to more than 100 embassies and high commissions and comprises individuals who hail from over 200 different countries. The government will continue to work closely alongside multicultural community leaders and members and of course the new ACT Multicultural Advisory Council to further formulate and revise this important policy which governs and values our city’s language wealth.

Our government’s central goal for social inclusion is to help every person reach their potential as a member of our diverse, inclusive and creative community, including through the protection of mother languages and access to services and programs to speak one of our country’s languages, English. That central goal for social inclusion and the preservation of language and cultural heritage is particularly imperative when we refer to the very important and significant contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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