Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Australian Football League Ramadan Dinner, Punt Road Oval, Richmond, Vic

Location: Punt Road Oval, Richmond, Vic


Thank you. Salam alaikum.

Can I also start by adding my acknowledgment of country.

Can I acknowledge my state parliamentary colleague Minister Robin Scott; AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and members of the AFL team here; Acting CEO, TAFE South Australia Miriam Silva – and I hope that – your injuries – you get over them soon; AFL Player & Multicultural Programme Ambassador, Bachar Houli and the many players and officials here; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you to the AFL and Australia Post for the invitation to be here this evening.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General and the Minister for Social Services, I am very happy to be here on behalf of the Australian Government, representing in particular the Attorney-General, Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC

I know the Attorney and his office have great respect for the work of the AFL, and in particular the Bachar Houli program and the efforts of people like Ali Fahour. He has asked me especially to pass on his best wishes.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all ‘Ramadan Mubarak’.

The focus on peace, kindness and generosity during Ramadan reminds us of the principles and values that underpin our identity as Australians: respect for diversity, democracy, freedom and equality.

And I know that for Australian Muslims, Ramadan is the holiest of months.

It is a time of deep reflection and spiritual cleansing for Muslims around the world. It is a time when the peace and kindness that is central to Islam is especially evident in our community.

This generosity and openness helps to foster friendships between Australians of different faiths and to build community unity and cohesion.

Practising a faith is an important part of the lives of many Australians. We are fortunate to be part of a nation that is home to a broad diversity of faith communities, including our esteemed Muslim communities.

Australia is enriched by these practices and the values of kindness, community and virtue that they embody. They remind us of the core beliefs and values that are common between people of different faiths in our country, such as commitment to peace and respect for family life.

Through their Multicultural Program, the AFL has developed excellent initiatives that recognise these different faiths and help people build positive relationships and develop skills that will help them to thrive in their communities.

I am proud that the Australian Government has been able to support these projects.

I would like specifically to acknowledge the dedication and passion of Bachar Houli, who has been instrumental in bringing these projects to life over the last few years.

Your passion and dedication in promoting a respectful and harmonious Australia is so important to the understanding of all Australians.

You are one of the Australian Football League’s 12 Player Ambassadors in the Multicultural Programme. And you all actively engage and are involved in all aspects of the game and as ambassadors for social cohesion in the broader community.

And of course you have taken this to heart because you have embraced not only the game but you’ve encouraged all your relatives to join Tigers as paid-up members so that’s putting money where your mouth is1.

Islam has enjoyed a long history in Australia, with Muslims from many different backgrounds helping to enrich and diversify what has become one of the most cohesive and prosperous societies in the world.

And of course, this social cohesion which we are so proud just doesn’t happen by chance. It is achieved by bringing all of us together and creating connections across communities, including fostering inter-faith understanding and dialogue.

And I know that there have been challenges but we will overcome these issues by putting an even greater effort to work together. And events such as tonight make such a great contribution to this work.

Thank you again for inviting me to celebrate this evening with you, and I wish you all a blessed Ramadan.