House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Constituency Statements

India, Calwell Electorate: Indian Community

10:24 am

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I was delighted to meet India's Minister of External Affairs, the Hon. Dr S Jaishankar, when he was hosted last week by the University of Melbourne's Australia India Institute. The minister was in Melbourne as part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and took part in a very insightful conversation on the Australian-India partnership and our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. I want to take this opportunity to also acknowledge the work of my former colleague Lisa Singh, who is now the CEO of the Australia India Institute, and congratulate her on the launch of the India Matters program. This is a program that seeks to promote Australia and India's relationship by facilitating discussion on politics, commerce, education and culture, with people-to-people participation. Interaction like this acts as a key facilitator. The rise of India and its place in our region, including its role as one of our top source countries for migration, signifies the ongoing and future importance of Australia's relationship with India. Such dialogue and people-to-people exchange during this period of considerable regional and global change is very critical. Our engagement with India is important to building our research capacity, extending our reach into Asia and beyond and supporting the growth of our economy.

Over a period now of almost two decades, migration from India to Australia has increased significantly, drawing largely from international students and skilled migrants. India leads as a top source country for migration to Australia, and migrants from India are now an emerging community in my electorate of Calwell, with thousands settling and taking up citizenship with great enthusiasm. In fact, in the 20 or so online citizenship ceremonies that I have conducted in the last year alone in the Hume council, over 50 per cent of those taking up citizenship have been from India and the subcontinent. These are new citizens who are becoming a part of our very vibrant diaspora communities.

Members of my local Indian community are doing an excellent job to assist the Indian settlement experience in Calwell. Local organisations such as the Sahara Welfare Resource Centre and the Oorja Foundation, both community led, volunteer based organisations, bridge an important gap between the community and access to settlement services. Other places of significance include the Sikh Gurudwara in Craigieburn and the Kali Mata mandir temple, providing the spiritual guidance and places of worship so important to my local faiths. Our local Indian community contributes to and adds to the richness of our multicultural community. In this century going forward, engagement between Australia and India will enhance our region's mutual social and economic growth and success. I'm proud that this principle, this model of engagement and growth, is formed and shaped in places such as my electorate and continues to grow through those within our community.