House debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023



4:30 pm

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

My focus right now, at this most difficult of times, is to do all I can to strengthen social cohesion in our country. I'm doing this, firstly, by listening; by working closely with multicultural and multifaith groups who are the most directly affected by the conflict. I am listening with intent to address concerns and to appreciate what directly affected communities need from government right now. Through these conversations, I've been hearing about the fear that exists within our Jewish communities—of mothers too scared to send their children to school, about the ongoing distress of communities about reporting illustrating the suffering faced by innocents in Israel. I've also heard about how Muslim and Arab communities are feeling scared and horrified at the conditions facing innocent people in Gaza as well as distress around aspects of the public discourse.

I've spoken in recent days to Jewish and Muslim community leaders. Many have reached out to me. From speaking right now, I will proceed to roundtables with Muslim community leaders first and then with Jewish community leaders. I don't presume that these roundtables will bring resolution. Rather, I see this as the start of a deep engagement to which I am committed and from which I hope I can play a part on behalf of the Australian government in bringing people together by keeping communities safe.


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