The Belconnen that I grew up in was diverse without being divided. My family were newcomers who stood out. But we were welcomed and encouraged to succeed. I never felt like other people looked down on us. This has much to do with the design of the suburbs and the nature of the city. There were two and three bedroom houses where we lived near the shops and five or even six bedroom houses up on the hill. However, you could meet just about anyone down at the oval or up on the nature reserve.

I believe that Belconnen and Canberra remains largely diverse without being divided. However, social cohesion has to be protected and fostered. It’s threatened whenever people in the community are left behind in economic terms, when they cannot afford quality housing, and when they are excluded from society because of their identity. I’m also skeptical of the ALP/Green push to increase population density and services in the inner north as a part of the light rail project, and how this might lead to a more fractured rather than united city.

Social inclusion is not a wishy-washy matter. It goes to the core of what it means for communities and individuals to be secure and healthy.

My social inclusion policies focus on sport, arts and planning while incorporating other fundamental issues of health, justice and education. More to come.