Page 3695 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 13 September 2017

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Spanish speakers to maintain their parents’ and grandparents’ culture and language, a point given much-needed emphasis by the motion that opposition leader Alistair Coe successfully brought to the Assembly earlier today in support of mother languages. People included “cool” in the name of their school because they want their Spanish language instruction to be just as fun as dancing, singing and playing.

My host at the new cultural centre was Carlos Torres, director of the Spanish Speakers Association and winner of the territory’s 2015 volunteer of the year award in the education, science and technology category. Carlos started Ositos Cool with just one class of four children and has overseen the program’s growth to four classes with about 40 children and eight childcare centre classes with 12 students each. He also started the Spanish-speaking scout group mentioned earlier.

Carlos embodies many of the values that guide the Canberra Liberals, including our belief in the worth of the individual and in the right to be independent and to achieve, as well as our belief in the need to foster initiative and personal responsibility and to emphasise the importance of voluntary effort and volunteer organisations. I wish to thank him for so graciously hosting me on Sunday and, more importantly, for all that he has done to drive the Spanish Speakers Association, to grow Spanish language instruction in the territory and to help secure this new cultural centre. Well done, Carlos.

Before I conclude, I wish to mention that the association will be hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, 8 October. Excess funds generated on the day will go towards financing the new Latin American Cultural Centre. I wish them much success with this event and with all of their future endeavours.

Voluntary assisted dying

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.21): It is well known where I stand on issues regarding voluntary assisted dying. In the almost year since I have been elected many people have contacted me about the desire for the federal law to be overturned so that we can properly debate the matter in the community and in this place and not be beholden to outdated legislation made by people who do not represent us.

A constituent contacted me recently and shared a story that I think is so important that I want to put it on the record. My constituent is anonymous for reasons which will become obvious:

My mother developed emphysema and was suffering from chronic back pain. She made the decision to end her own life and began researching how to do it. She spent some months meticulously planning her death, discussing it frequently with me and my father. I found this distressing, and spoke to my doctor and hers to see if there was some way we could help her feel comfortable with her life. They could offer no solutions other than having her committed and placed on suicide watch. Her death from emphysema was not imminent enough for her to be placed in a hospice.

My mother asked me to obtain the book ‘Final Exit’ for her. I did so, because I knew she was determined to end her life with or without it. If I had failed to support her, she would have died alone, feeling unloved.

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