Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Fifth General Congress of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation of Australia and New Zealand

Location: Quang Duc Monastery, 105 Lynch Road, Fawkner


Can I Start by acknowledging Minister Robyn Scott representing the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the Most Venerable Thich Nhu Hue, Senior Venerable Thich Tam Phuong, President of the Vietnamese Community in Victoria, Bon Van Nguyen, community leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman.

As the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, it is my great honour to be here at this sacred site, the Quang Duc Monastery today representing the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Tony Abbott MP.

The Prime Minister has asked me to pass on his very best wishes for the Fifth General Congress and to read the following message on this behalf:

I am pleased to provide this message for everyone attending the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation of Australia and New Zealand Fifth General Congress.

This is an opportunity for Buddhists from around our region to come together in fellowship and celebration of culture.

The Buddhist community, in all its diversity, has become an integral part of the Australian story.

Buddhism is Australia’s second-most practiced religion. For many, it provides meaning, purpose and inspiration to their daily lives.

Your commitment to the five precepts of Buddhism: don’t kill, don’t steal, avoid dishonourable conduct, don’t lie, and don’t over-indulge stand as a universal code of conduct that all people – regardless of our religion or culture – should strive towards.

On this occasion, we reflect on the significant contributions Australian Buddhists make to Australia and the world. I acknowledge your commitment to respect, compassion and understanding as taught by Buddha.

I send my best wishes to everyone attending the Fifth General Congress, and trust it will be an enriching and inspiring occasion for all.

The Hon Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister of Australia

This National Congress has become a major event on the calendar since the inaugural Congress was held in Sydney in 1999. The event has since been held in Brisbane in 2003, Perth in 2007 and Adelaide in 2011.

So today is quite auspicious as the Congress has come to Victoria for the first time.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation of Australia and New Zealand for its work helping refugees and other community members in need.

Can I also take this opportunity to commend you on your fundraising efforts over the years and most recently in your efforts to assist the earthquake victims in Nepal.

We should also take a moment to reflect on the significant contribution people of Vietnamese heritage have made to our country.

As the daughter of migrants myself, I understand very well that Australia’s cultural diversity is a source of great social and economic strength.

Vietnamese immigrants have made a strong contribution to our national life, particularly since 1975. In Victoria alone, there are more than 68,000 Vietnamese-born people.

There are many talented people of Vietnamese background in all spheres of Australian life. Only last year we saw former refugee Hieu Van Le AO, for example, sworn in as the Governor of South Australia last year.

Like many of the communities making up our multicultural nation, Vietnamese-Australians are characterised by a love of family, a respect for education, participation in small business and devotion to their adopted country.

I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam as part of the Australian Political Exchange Program in 1994 and experience first-hand the richness of your cultural heritage.

Can I conclude by acknowledging the important contribution that Vietnamese-Australians continue to make to this great country.

Indeed, this Congress reaffirms our success as a multicultural society where Australians of any background or culture can, and do come together to celebrate milestones and celebrate their cultural heritage. All in an environment of social cohesion that is the envy of most of the rest of the world.

Our cultural diversity is a source of great social and economic strength, and the contributions of migrants and their families spanning generations have helped create the Australia we enjoy today.

The Australian Government is building and maintaining a prosperous and cohesive multicultural nation.

Once again, I wish you all a productive and enjoyable Congress.

Thank you.