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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 September 2017) . . Page.. 3950 ..


MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (11.36): I thank Ms Cheyne for bringing this motion to the Assembly and for providing us with an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of inclusion as a core pillar of our community values. I have spoken in this place many times about the richness and diversity of our community, and we often speak proudly of Canberra as one of the most inclusive cities in the country.

However, I also acknowledge that there is more to do, because in 2017 outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans are still falling short, something we have acknowledged and spoken about in this place a number of times in recent months. In 2017 people with disability still have to navigate a system of support that, while improving, does have some way to go before it offers people with disability the sort of ease in undertaking basic, everyday activities that most Australians take for granted. In 2017 we still do not have marriage equality, despite New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom all extending this right to their citizens, and in 2017 the federal Liberal government sought to legislate to make it lawful to offend, insult or humiliate someone because of their race or ethnicity.

The ACT government, by contrast, stands firm in our commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming city for all Canberrans. As set out in Ms Cheyne’s motion, this is more than an aspiration. It is something we are actively working towards, with real investment to ensure that we deliver better support when it matters. The 2017-18 budget delivered on our election commitments with a range of initiatives to ensure diversity and difference are celebrated and supported instead of being obstacles to full participation in our community. I have spoken about these a number of times and I am sure members will be relieved that I do not intend to run through the full list of budget measures in my portfolios yet again.

I do, however, want to take this opportunity to reflect on several of the ACT government’s initiatives set out in Ms Cheyne’s motion but also to highlight several others. The 2017-18 budget continued the ACT government’s strong support for and celebration of our diverse cultural communities. We encouraged stronger social cohesion through events like the National Multicultural Festival, multicultural community broadcasters and community participation programs, and we continue to promote Canberra as a diverse multicultural and vibrant international city with a range of arts and events programs and ongoing international engagement efforts.

This government also stands firm in our commitment as a refugee welcome zone, the only state or territory to do so, along with over 148 local governments across Australia. The ACT government stands firm on its commitment to uphold the human rights and dignity of people arriving here as refugees, humanitarian entrants and asylum seekers. In signing the refugee welcome zone declaration, the ACT government gave a commitment to provide a welcoming and safe space in our community to uphold the human rights of people from refugee backgrounds, to demonstrate compassion and enhance cultural and religious diversity in our city. The


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