A new reference group to oversee actions promoting cultural harmony was announced today at a major community forum.
Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Minister for Multicultural Affairs Joy Burch and Attorney-General Simon Corbell made the announcement at the One Canberra symposium.
The symposium featured a panel of representatives from a range of cultural groups, ACT Policing and young people with an audience representing a cross-section of the city.
It followed meetings last month between the ACT Government and leaders from Canberra’s different faith and cultural groups to discuss ways to ensure the community remains safe and harmonious.
“Canberra is a great multicultural city and this symposium is a tangible way that we as a community can show our commitment to continuing this strong record and is a key tool to ensure that we hear the issues raised by the many and varied cultural communities and try to address their concerns,” the Chief Minister said.
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“More than one third of our population was either born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas and around one-fifth of us speak a language other than English at home.
“Canberra has always prided itself on being an inclusive and welcoming city – it’s something that has been at the core of our growth and we want to ensure these attributes continue to thrive.
“With this symposium, we are continuing the conversation with community leaders and representatives about any issues they are aware of that being experienced by people from different cultural backgrounds.”
Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommosane gave the keynote speech. The panel comprised representatives from ACT Policing, Canberra Interfaith Forum, Canberra Islamic Centre, Dickson College and Multicultural Youth Services as well as two young people.
Ms Burch said the symposium was an important way to understand issues faced by different cultural groups as well as hearing views of the broader community.
“Canberrans have always embraced people from all backgrounds,” Ms Burch said. “We need to keep working hard to ensure that multiculturalism continues to be a mainstay of our city.
“The reference group announced today will have an important role in implementing solutions to any issues identified today and developing ideas on how we can continue to support a diverse city.
“The ideas discussed today will also feed into our Capital Culture consultation paper for the ACT Multicultural Framework 2014-18. I encourage anyone wanting to make a submission to this paper to visit the Community Services Directorate website at www.communityservices.act.gov.au/multicultural/files/html/capital-culture-a-discussion-paper.”
The draft framework will be discussed at a multicultural symposium to be held on 29 November. Submissions close on 30 January 2014.
Mr Corbell said the ACT’s law enforcement agencies had long enjoyed close relationships with Canberra’s different cultural communities.
“ACT Policing is actively engaged with the Canberra community to raise awareness of local policing activities and services,” Mr Corbell said.
“Their work complements broader work undertaken to engage with our multicultural communities and produce a community that celebrates our diverse heritage.”
A video featuring highlights from the One Canberra Symposium is due to be published tomorrow on the ACT Government’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/actgovernment
(Katy Gallagher Media Release)