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Monday, 6 December 1993
Page: 3839

Senator ZAKHAROV —My question is addressed to the Minister for Family Services. Can the minister advise the Senate of the progress of plans for the celebration of the United Nations International Year of the Family in 1994 and of what activities are planned for Australia next year?

Senator CROWLEY —I am pleased to have the opportunity to say to Senator Hill that I might have missed prayers but I was coming in on a wing and a prayer to be here on time. I am sorry I missed the opening, but I was certainly determined to be here. I have just come back from the Australian launch today by the Prime Minister of the International Year of the Family celebrations, which are timed to correspond with the launch tomorrow in New York of the United Nations international family year.

  The function today in Bankstown was a great success. It was a lovely occasion, attended by children from local schools, families and prominent Australians who will be supporting the year. There was music, dancing, poetry and Aboriginal dance theatre. The Bankstown Girls High School was there. It reflected the range and diversity of talent in families across Australia. The International Year of the Family will provide a unique opportunity for Australians to celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of Australian families. I think everyone here would acknowledge that families are the essence, backbone and strength of this nation and are a very powerful contributor to Australia's culture.

  The federal government will be using the International Year of the Family to examine issues that are relevant to Australian families and, in particular, to develop the three main themes that have emerged: families and work; family harmony; and, in particular, families of the future. The federal government intends to make use of the International Year of the Family to make sure that programs and policies affecting the family not only actually reflect the needs of our community and our families now but also will be relevant to families of tomorrow. We are committed to supporting families and providing extended and increased opportunities for them.

  One of the things that will emerge from the International Year of the Family is an Australian agenda for families. It will emerge after extensive consultation and discussion around Australia with the national council on the IYF in particular, but also with any number of people who are clearly interested in being involved with the year—all the way from corporate sponsors to prominent Australians and, indeed, just about every dimension or portfolio interest one could think of.

  There is very large and lively interest from the corporate sector and also from people involved in the arts, television, media, storytelling and dance—the whole lot. There are prospects for a very fruitful year and, I would hope, one that will be as widely involving as possible of as many Australians as possible.   There will be all sorts of activities. Early next year I will be launching a calendar of events to highlight not all, of course, but the large majority of the activities that will feature in the International Year of the Family. I look forward to celebrating and I sincerely hope that it is also the intention of the opposition to join in a large celebration around this country of all Australian families.