House debates

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Werriwa Electorate: Community Events

4:45 pm

Photo of Laurie FergusonLaurie Ferguson (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I wish to congratulate a number of residents of Macarthur and Werriwa electorates—Charlie and Mal Fruean, Alofa and Faiva Aii, Barbara Lealiie’e, Ron Inu, Sam Lenk, Rich Manu, Mal Smith, Char Elers and Tania Tungalu, who constitute the awards night committee of the South-West Sydney Regional Advisory Committee of the New South Wales Council for Pacific Communities—for the event they held on 17 September at the CUBE at the Campbelltown Catholic Club. I have to say that this event is very impressive. It was established only three years ago when there were a mere 20 nominees for awards. It has now grown into a function that has 76 nominees and, where it once had 80 attendees, it now has 300 to 400.

I want to salute their effort because in actual fact Werriwa has the second highest concentration of Polynesians in this country—there are 5,500 people—and, equally, it is the ninth placed electorate in this country in regards to Maori speakers. Obviously this is a very challenged community. We see antisocial activity. We know that because of the state of the New Zealand education system a number of Polynesian migrants passing through New Zealand come to this country with poor English, an issue that most people would not be aware of, and this leads to a number of problems.

I want to salute another effort in the region out there: the Body Pacifica event—a display of tattoos connected with rugby league players of Polynesian extraction, which occurred at the Casula Powerhouse.

These awards are very fitting. They are an indication to the Islander community that the way forward is through education, through engagement and through involvement. These awards on the night really saluted some fine people. For instance, Tali Ofo, who gained a major award, is a female minister in a Protestant church who travels by public transport late at night throughout the region visiting people and ministering to them. There were a number of people there involved in sport and in entertainment and also those who were succeeding in academia. An interesting person there on the evening was Timothy So’e, the main force behind Reel the Musical, which is very popular out there. It occurred when a group of young people got together after one of their confreres was murdered at Minto a few years ago. It is a very successful musical effort where he is the dancer, choreographer et cetera.

I have no doubt that the entertainment on the night, Angel Tupua and Paulini Tawamacala, will be featured in Australian culture in a big way in the next few years. Also there was David Nofoaluma, who played in the under-18s for Australia and is signed by Wests Tigers. Organisations such as Minto Access Point were saluted for their efforts. Nikk-Talo Talaoloa was recognised for her efforts with fashion design, visual work, carving, apprenticeships et cetera.

This was a night on which many people who have made major efforts in the Pacific Islander community were honoured. The important thing is that young people, who constituted a big part of the audience, can see people who are succeeding in the society. They can see a way forward, they can see an alternative, and these people are to be saluted for that. The judges of the evening show the community involvement behind this: Rudi Kolkman, a well known Campbelltown councillor, Lisa Havilah, the director of the Campbelltown Arts Centre and Benjamin Sega, who as a community leader is now undertaking a social science degree in policing at UWS.

This organisation aims to help all communities—Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian—not just those from Polynesian areas. This community event is in the first line of gala festivities in the area.

I will take the last few minutes to talk very quickly about two other events. It is a great country, Australia, where two weekends apart, at Liverpool Whitlam Leisure Centre, we can have a Ramadan celebration, Chand Raat, for the Pakistani community, and a week later, at the same venue, Ganeshotsava, a major Hindu celebration. So, in the same region in Sydney, two communities that overseas have great difficulties with their nations constantly involved in conflict over Kashmir and every second issue that can be thought of, in this country, Australia, on several weekends can have festivities that, while they are of a religious nature, are essentially a community celebration. I salute the two organising groups for that. In the case of the Indian one, the whole event was run by young people under 18—MCs, choreography and all the acts put together by youths.