Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

SydWest Multicultural Services 30th Birthday Celebrations

Location: Blacktown


Well, first of all can I excuse myself for being late, unfortunately the delays on the M2 are not forgiving, so at this time of the day we had to take some innovative back routes.

Thank-you very much for your kind welcome, and could I add my acknowledgment of Country.

Can I also acknowledge my dear friend Deputy Mayor Jacqueline Donaldson; my other dear friend Felice Montrone Deputy Chair of Multicultural New South Wales Advisory Board; SydWest Chair Om Dhungel and your Board of Directors; SydWest CEO Elfa Moraitakis; Staff and Volunteers; ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you very much for your kind invitation to tonight’s 30th birthday celebration event.

As Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, I am very pleased to be here to acknowledge the very good work that SydWest has achieved over the past 30 years.

Can I firstly acknowledge and thank-you for all your work that you have done in the culturally and linguistically diverse, or CALD, space and most especially the work that you have done in the ageing space, which is a subject very dear to my own heart.

Since 1985, SydWest has helped thousands of people in western Sydney to settle into our Australian society. And with around 22,000 this year alone, this is indeed a significant achievement.

Your core values of integrity; diversity; passion and professionalism are evident in the work that you do.

As a Settlement Services International (SSI) partner, you have delivered programmes, casework, support groups, playgroups and aged care and disability services, English language conversation classes, driver knowledge classes, homework help for students, and support groups for men, women, seniors and carers.

SydWest is one of those many organisations which have contributed to Australia’s status as a world-leader in the support of permanent migrants and humanitarian entrants.

We are one of the most diverse, prosperous and harmonious nations with about 47% of us either born overseas or with at least one parent born overseas.

Migration is our past, it is our present and it will be our future. Therefore organisations such as SydWest are an important part of the framework which helps effective settlement and building on our social cohesion.

Our sustained success in settlement and social cohesion takes a combined effort, from individuals, from civil society and Government who join together to build this prosperity.

We work best when we work hand in hand.

So can I congratulate SydWest for its work in the social cohesion space.

I understand the Building Social Cohesion in Blacktown programme, has brought together young people and adults from diverse backgrounds in a cultural exchange involving music and dance, and it received a ZEST Award for Outstanding Programme in a Not-For-Profit Organisation last year.

I am grateful for SydWest’s efforts, and those of its community care workers, in the settlement of humanitarian entrants, maintaining and building on our social cohesion and making a difference to people’s lives – that’s what it’s all about.

I understand you have just held your Annual General Meeting, so what better time than now to take the time to reflect on another year of achievements so important to Australian society, and so important here in Western Sydney.

Can I wish you a very, very happy birthday and much success over the next years.

Thank you.