House debates

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Statements by Members

Australian Sikh Community

1:48 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

Earlier this week by colleagues and I were delighted to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, with Australian Sikh Council and Sikhs from around Australia. The prayer, led by Guru Granth Sahib, and celebration in the Mural Hall was the first-ever Parkash ceremony in any parliament house in Australia. A special thankyou to the Presiding Officers of Parliament House, who respected the Sikh tradition of wearing a Kirpan during yesterday's ceremony, and arranged for that to be allowed into the parliament. Census data reveals that Sikhism is now Australia's fifth-largest religion. As we celebrated the Guru Nanak's birth anniversary in this place, many Sikhs around the country celebrated too, including in Victoria, the home of the largest Sikh community in Australia. When Guru Nanak established Sikhism, he sought to create an egalitarian, progressive society, while developing organised resistance to injustices. In this say, Sikh values are Australian values. I see these values lived out every day in the Sikh community in my community in Melbourne's west.

The concept of langar was initiated centuries ago by Guru Nanak. At the langar, no-one goes hungry and everyone gets a hot meal, regardless of caste, creed or religion. In my electorate, this takes the form of breakfast clubs that feed 230 children every day. I also see these values in the volunteer work of the Young Sikh Professionals Network, as they find ways to ensure recent migrants are adequately supported and prepare young Sikhs for positions of leadership in our country. The work of the Australian Sikh communities is evidence that we're on the way to realising our potential as a multicultural success story.