Tuesday, 10 September 2019
It was a great honour to have been appointed as Labor's spokesperson for multicultural affairs by the Leader of the Opposition following the election. In the present circumstances, it is also a great responsibility to stand up for multicultural communities and for diversity and inclusion around Australia. This has also given me a great opportunity to engage with diverse communities right around the country to listen to their experiences, to bear witness to these and to learn what matters to different communities who have different relationships with government and different priorities. It has been a great privilege—whether it has been meeting with multicultural leaders in Adelaide; understanding how the Bhutanese community in Cairns is engaging with, settling in and shaping that great town; or celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Melbourne's African community, a vibrant community that have too often been demonised in this place and in the media when in fact they should be celebrated and supported.
My electorate of Scullin is one of the most diverse electorates in Australia, and that is something we celebrate. I was so pleased to join with the Aurora Community Association at their multicultural festival the other weekend. I pay tribute to the president of the association, Toni-Marie Wuelfert; the amazing Mr Goel, MC extraordinaire; councillors Lawrie Cox and Chris Pavlidis; and the hundreds of community members who joined in this wonderful celebration that typified how we in the northern suburbs of Melbourne celebrate and fight for our multiculturalism as something that strengthens our community, something that is not simply about people celebrating their own culture but about sharing it and recognising that, through that sharing, we grow as a community, as, indeed, we do as a nation.
I thought about this when I read the report by Deloitte Access Economics that SBS and the Diversity Council commissioned. It showed us something very important that affects every community. It showed us the cost of exclusion, of people missing out on opportunities for participation—economic, social and political. But it also highlighted the great benefit we can have if we embrace diversity more fully—a benefit that Deloitte quantified at $12.7 billion. This is something all of us need to focus on more in our communities and across the nation.
I celebrate the Aurora Community Association, and groups like them around Australia, for their work in celebrating culture and sharing culture. I join with them in celebrating multiculturalism, in committing to fight for it wherever it is under threat and in seeking to strengthen it and, in doing so, strengthen our community, our economy and our society.