Despite supposed dissent on this issue, the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum (CMCF) Inc, eagerly awaits the proposed tribute to the “father of multiculturalism”, the Honourable Al Grassby.

Mr Sam Wong AM, Chair of the CMCF, said, “During his life, Mr Grassby was colourful and controversial, but his passion and his policies helped transform Australia into a nation that welcomes people from every part of the globe.”

As the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) said following his death in May 2005, “Mr Grassby was probably the most important individual advocate of multiculturalism in Australia”.

Shortly after his death and before the announcement of the $72,000 statue commemorating his contribution, both sides of politics shared FECCA’s sentiment. Our Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope said that for many thousand Canberrans “of all political persuasions, Al will be remembered as a champion of those who arrive on our shores seeking a better life”. Likewise, Mr Stefaniak, leader of the Opposition, said, “We have some 160 different nationalities represented in Canberra now. I wonder if we would have the pleasure of having so much diversity in our community and all the benefits that go with it were it not for the sterling efforts of Al Grassby”.

“Regardless of the current negative publicity about Mr Grassby, he is best remembered for initiating vast reforms to help immigrants and was commended by the UN for his role in helping to stop racism. He facilitated the introduction of non-discriminatory procedures for migrant selection, pioneered the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975, and helped establish infrastructure to educate and support migrants within Australia.”

“Mr Grassby made a remarkable contribution to Australian society and multiculturalism.

His legacy continues today. It is fitting that the ACT Government commemorates the legacy of the late Mr Grassby in the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre, the new hub of multicultural Canberra.”

Since the ACT Government opened the Centre in December 2005, it has been a focal point for the ACT community and a great space to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity in the Canberra community.

As a local group, the CMCF represents the needs, aspirations and achievements of the Canberra multicultural community. We support the ACT Government’s goal of a cohesive Canberra community where multiculturalism is both embraced and celebrated. Honouring the father of multiculturalism, providing grants to local communities, supporting the National Multicultural Festival and providing English classes to new migrants all contribute to a cohesive Canberra community.

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