I arrived two years ago, almost to the day, and I am already a passionate Canberran. My role as Vice-Chancellor of the University that bears the name 'Canberra' makes this day particularly special for me.
Territory legislation requires that the university pays special attention to the needs of this city and the region. And it is this obligation that makes my role so special. UC is your university and today marks an opportunity for my colleagues and I to reflect on the contributions the University of Canberra makes to our region, and to look forward to ways we can do more.
In writing this piece I investigated the history of Canberra Day. It marks the anniversary of the day in 1913 that Lady Denman announced 'Canberra' would be the name of Australia's new national capital our city's birthday.
It turns out Lady Denman, wife of Governor-General Thomas Denman, was an active supporter of the suffragette movement, was known as 'the children's champion' and was a keen sportsperson and enthusiastic supporter of all forms of sport.
It's hard not to wonder what Lady Denman would think - 109 years later - about the lack of an Arena to host elite women's sport; a hub for our community to use, and a venue for live music and entertainment for the next generation of Canberrans. A deficit that is a major topic for debate in our city.
For me, there is no question that one of the best birthday gifts Canberra could receive is a commitment to a new Arena. This should be a no-brainer, and certainly a non-partisan issue. A city of half a million, in a region of close to a million, the capital city, the youngest and fittest city in Australia - needs an indoor Arena.
Arenas are not usually profit generators; they are community assets. The University of Canberra as a young university is not endowed with deep pockets to self-fund major community infrastructure. But UC will play our part.
We believe our city needs an Arena, our Capitals need a permanent home and younger Canberrans (students or not) who have sacrificed opportunities during years of lockdown need somewhere they can see the world's most popular performers.
Lady Gaga played the AIS Arena in 2010. She won't be playing in Canberra on her next Australian tour. Currently, the largest indoor music venue in Canberra is the UC Refectory which holds 1,800. We need a 7-10,000 seat venue. A venue befitting our nation's capital city.
UC has allocated land, undertaken initial feasibility work, and identified our community sporting partners who would use the facility week in and week out for local sport. We have sought support of all levels of government and politicians of all parties. We have not yet got a commitment, but we welcome the Chief Minister making this an election issue.
Next year will see the 110th Anniversary of Canberra. Wouldn't it be a fitting celebration to begin construction of a new facility to benefit the people of the entire region?
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