Page 3916 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 19 September 2017

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Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (4.11): On Saturday I had the privilege of opening the Ainslie School open day and fete. Ninety years ago today, in 1927, Prime Minister Stanley Bruce officially opened Ainslie School. It was the first official act of a Prime Minister in the new capital.

I am lucky, as is Ms Lee, to have many of Canberra’s oldest and most historic buildings and institutions in our electorate of Kurrajong. The Ainslie School is a very important one of those. The anniversary we celebrate today is not an anniversary or a celebration of a single building. The original building—the one that was opened by Stanley Bruce 90 years ago—is no longer used by the school, as we are probably all aware. The current Ainslie School building was built in 1938. While both buildings are historically and architecturally important to our city, they are only one of the elements of Ainslie School that we are celebrating. In reality, we are celebrating the community that has been built with Ainslie School at its core and the contribution of Ainslie School to building the community of the inner north.

Many Canberrans, particularly residents of the inner north, have a strong connection to Ainslie School. Some are parents or former students; some are teachers, former teachers, support staff or cleaners. Some are childcare workers at the after-school and holiday care programs based at the school. Some are involved in the Ainslie Arts Centre, which is housed just across the oval in the original school building. Many are simply locals who enjoy the range of community events on Ainslie School’s calendar, including the much loved annual fete.

When a family moves to a new place, it is often the local school that is their first connection to their new community. I have no doubt that Ainslie School—in fact, I have heard this—has absolutely helped to introduce many families who are new to our city or new to our country to their neighbours and their community. Currently Ainslie School boasts around one-quarter of its students coming from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. You could see that in the faces of the children in the school on the fete day on Saturday.

While Ainslie is at the core of its own community in the inner north, it has also played a part in many of our city’s significant events and moments. Students who participate in Ainslie’s performing arts programs hold major performances at annual events like Floriade, BandFest, Dance Nation and Step into the Limelight. When Kevin Rudd delivered the historic apology to the stolen generations in 2007, Ainslie School’s choir, Ainslie Voices, sang on the lawns of Parliament House.

I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the Ainslie School community for building up what is now generations of community feeling and wellbeing within the inner north—all of the teachers and former teachers, the parents and everyone else who has been involved in the school. I particularly want to say thank you to Mel, Michael and Nova for their fabulous work in organising the open day and fete and all the other wonderful 90th birthday celebrations that are going on this year. Indeed, I understand that today the school held an assembly with a number of federal representatives there.

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