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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 774 ..

This is why Mr Vaka, the psychiatric nurse mentioned earlier, actively works to recruit nurses from CALD backgrounds.

Madam Speaker, much has already been made in this chamber of the delays in implementing an ACT office for mental health. These delays are to be regretted, but I would suggest that they also provide the Minister for Mental Health with an opportunity to make sure that important multicultural dimensions are not overlooked in the creation of this office.

In light of the fact that the adult mental health unit at Canberra Hospital is currently experiencing what the union has called a “crippling shortage” of permanent psychiatrists and that, as a consequence, “ACT Health is continuing to undertake a national and international recruitment activity to fill vacant positions”, I specifically recommend to Mr Rattenbury that professionals with demonstrable cultural competence are specifically targeted as part of this recruitment drive and that cultural sensitivity be embedded in everything this office does. Madam Speaker, I look forward to hearing more on this topic from the minister.

Harmony Day

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (5.43): I am delighted to speak today on Harmony Day 2018 which is celebrated tomorrow, 21 March, and every year to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Discrimination, symbolising our city’s inclusive spirit and the ACT government’s commitment to working towards a more harmonious and inclusive society. Harmony Day is a true celebration of the diverse cultural and linguistic background of our city. Australia is a multicultural country, and I see this every day in my staff who come from a diverse array of backgrounds and nationalities including Jamaican, Korean, Polish, Ukrainian, Swedish and English.

The ACT government values the benefits of a multicultural city that promotes inclusivity, diversity of culture and language, and the value of tolerance. Canberra is one of the most multicultural cities in Australia. We know from the 2011 census that 37 per cent of the ACT population reported being born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas. The 2016 census also showed an increase of households speaking a language other than English from 21.1 percent to 23.8 per cent. The ACT is home to over 100 embassies and high commissions with individuals from over 200 nations who reside in our city and call it home.

While our National Multicultural Festival, which was held in February, is a fantastic celebration of this diversity it is great to see other events occurring throughout the year in Canberra. On Saturday I was delighted to participate in the celebration of the festival of colours, Holi Mela, and the celebration of Harmony Day. The event was hosted by the India Australia Association of Canberra at Glebe Park and represented a wonderful celebration of multiculturalism, inclusivity and social harmony in our community, featuring live music, dance performances, food stalls showcasing authentic Indian food, games and interactive events for children attending the event as well as an explosion of colour which the festival is well known for.

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