Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Dedication and renaming of Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland House in honour of the late Nick Xynias AO BEM


Can I start by acknowledging the Governor of Queensland, Deputy Premier, my many Federal and State Parliamentary colleagues, Lord Mayor, Mayor and councillors, Agnes Whiten ECCQ Chair and fellow directors, Mrs Pat Xynias and all your family, many other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services responsible for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, I am honoured to be here representing the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Tony Abbott MP and the Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP.

Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison pass on their best wishes for today’s dedication and celebration of the life of the honorary President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, Mr Nick Xynias.

Many in the Australian community were saddened to hear of Mr Xynias’ passing last month.

He helped thousands of vulnerable families find the services and support they needed.

Mr Xynias made an extraordinary contribution to multicultural affairs in Queensland and Australia, dedicating his life to serving the community.

Thousands of new arrivals are better off due to his efforts and the work of your organisation, and I thank you for all your work.

He will be remembered not just by his family and friends but also by the many people who he helped during his lifetime.

I pay tribute and give thanks to the late Mr Nick Xynias AO BEM.

It is fitting to rename ECCQ House in his honour.

Like many of you, I was born in Australia to a family that arrived from another land and I could not even speak English when I started school.

My parents did not get as much help with settling in Australia as they would have today.

But they thrived because of their determination and the friendship and support of their neighbours and community.

Today, the Australian Government runs a national network of multicultural community liaison officers to give communities the help they need to become independent, economically viable, while also supporting social participation and wellbeing.

It is a big task but Government cannot do it alone. We need well-connected, expert partners in the community such as the ECCQ.

More than 7.5 million migrants have arrived in Australia since the end of World War 2, including about 800,000 under our humanitarian programme.

Helping them settle into their new country requires the active support from all Australians.

And this national effort helps bring us closer together.

Thanks to our migrants, Australia is one of the world’s most multicultural nations. We have about 300 ethnicities and just as many languages.

Our diversity means Australia can be more productive, invent new ways of doing business with the world, create new opportunities and boost our trade and investment enterprises.

We have built one of the most cohesive societies on Earth.

Migration can, and has, delivered social and economic strength, prosperity and unity and continues to contribute to a thriving and cohesive economy.

In a globalised economy, our diversity has become an advantage. It means we can confidently shake hands with far more of the world and its peoples.

It also means ECCQ’s work has played a part in steadfastly building up our national competitive advantage.

I encourage you to continue the great work that Nick Xynias and your other founders started in the 1970’s in sponsoring harmony, tolerance and social cohesion and may it long continue.

In closing, I especially thank you for the privilege of being here tonight to help celebrate the work of Mr Nick Xynias and the ECCQ.