House debates

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Nguyen, Mr Huy, Owusu, Mr Francis

7:24 pm

Photo of Gai BrodtmannGai Brodtmann (Canberra, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I had the pleasure of meeting with two remarkable young Canberrans here at Parliament House. The first was Huy Nguyen, who was here to graduate from the Leaders for Tomorrow program. The Leaders for Tomorrow program is an individual leadership development program that has been funded by this government to develop the leadership capacity of people with a disability. The program targets people who aspire to be leaders or to further develop their current leadership capacity, and at the end of the funding period it is expected that there will be 200 people with a disability who are more skilled, more confident and more active in leadership roles in business, community and government.

Participants have up to 12 months access to training, coaching, mentoring and other leadership development opportunities based on their individual needs. It is obvious why Huy was selected to participate in this program: he is an outgoing, energetic, highly intelligent and dedicated young man who devotes a great deal of his time to others. This year Huy initiated a Centenary of Canberra project called EnableCanberra. EnableCanberra is designed to make Canberra's many centenary celebrations accessible to as many people as possible, including people with a disability, people with mobility issues and parents with young children. The project includes a website detailing accessibility information for different centenary venues around Canberra, and is also involved in working directly with venues to improve staff skills in catering to people with access needs. EnableCanberra believes that accessibility can be beautiful and it does not have to be clinical or sterile.

This wonderful project, EnableCanberra, is just one of Huy's many accomplishments. He is also actively involved in wheelchair rugby and basketball and has developed a wheelchair basketball program for the Solomon Islands in partnership with NGOs. This year Huy has also completed a Young Social Pioneers program and has established a social enterprise called Enable Development, which brings together passionate professionals with life experience to address the challenges of disability in our global community. As you can hear, Speaker, Huy is an exceptional Canberran and I congratulate him on his graduation from the Leaders for Tomorrow program. But I do not believe Huy is just a leader of tomorrow; I believe he is a leader of today.

Members will also be aware that this week we are celebrating Refugee Week, and while at a Refugee Week afternoon tea here at Parliament House today I caught up with another incredible young Canberran—Francis Owusu. Francis is the ACT's Young Australian of the Year for 2013 and it has been a pleasure and absolute delight getting to know him over the past year. Francis started an organisation called Kulture Break, its name reflecting Francis's passion to transform a culture of negativity into a culture of pride and achievement through dance. Over the past decade, Francis and Kulture Break have performed with thousands of children in schools, in community centres and in jails throughout Canberra, inspiring and motivating them.

I am absolutely delighted that Francis has agreed to join my judging panel for the Creative Young Stars program. Creative Young Stars is a wonderful initiative by this government to encourage, support and celebrate creative, cultural, academic and community achievement by young people. I know there is an incredible amount of creative talent in my electorate of Canberra. I see it every time I go out to one of my schools. This program will be very, very well received. I have already had fantastic messages from principals throughout the electorate congratulating the government on this program and saying how they are very much looking forward to participating in it.

I am pleased to announce tonight that Francis will join Robyn Archer, the current CEO of the Centenary of Canberra; Harriet Elvin, who is the CEO of the Cultural Facilities Corporation, and I had the honour of serving on the Cultural Facilities Corporation board many years ago and getting to know Harriet—she is a significant contributor to all things cultural here in Canberra, including historic homes, theatre, social history et cetera as the CFC covers a range of areas; Donna Sullivan from Calwell High School, which has a great performing arts centre and also a school for performing arts; Ren Pryor, who manages the M16 Artspace in Griffith, which is a great space for aspiring young artists; and Lynne Kowalik from Arawang Primary School, which is one of the most exceptional music schools in my electorate. I am very honoured to have this wonderful group of talented people on my judging panel for the Creative Young Stars grants in Canberra. I look forward to meeting many more creative young people through this program, and I look forward to spending time with these wonderful judges in assessing our creative talents.