Transcript by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Video message for the launch of A Ticket to Paradise

Location:  National Archives of Australia, Canberra

Good evening.

Thank you for your kind invitation to represent the Prime Minister Tony Abbott to launch this landmark exhibition – “A Ticket to Paradise”.

The Prime Minister asked me to pass on his best wishes to everyone involved in the exhibition.

I regret that due to commitments in the Senate I was at the last minute not able to secure leave to be able to attend, but I wanted very much to extend my best wishes for this evening.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services, with special responsibility for settlement services and multicultural affairs, I consider it a tremendous honour to be invited to open this exhibition which explores many unique colourful and uplifting migrant stories.

As someone who has lived through a migrant experience in Australia, it has a particular relevance and poignancy for me.

I understand the importance of not only celebrating our cultural heritages, but also the joy of sharing it with other people while helping to grow their understanding.

So many of us are migrants, children of migrants or someone who knows a migrant. I am the child of migrants. Almost half of us were born overseas or have a parent who was.

I feel like I am a part of this journey.

I too have found my parents records held in the National Archives.

They show that my father Guiseppe Fierravanti arrived Sydney per the NEPTUNIA on 15 February 1953. My mother Antonia arrived on the AUSTRALIA on 28 January 1959.

This exhibition is not just for migrants or their families. I believe many Australians will enjoy the insights “A Ticket to Paradise” offers into this significant part of our history.

Our rich and successful and unique Australian multiculturalism is one of our country’s great and enduring strengths.

The Australian Government is constantly building and consolidating the prosperous and socially cohesive nation we have become.

We want to continue drawing on the best of our multicultural society and capitalise on the social and economic dividends from our rich cultural and linguistic diversity.

In my parents time there were few settlement services.

Today the Australia government is a world leader in providing settlement services for new arrivals.

The Australian Government believes that, to strengthen Australia’s productive diversity, language and employment are critical.

In our knowledge-based economy, employment, education and English language proficiency help migrants and new arrivals participate in economic and social activity.

I would like to congratulate the National Archives of Australia and all of those involved in making this exhibition possible.

I am sure the stories of exhibition and its tour around Australia will be very well received not only by those that made the journeys but by their families and friends.

I also encourage you all not to forget the many other stories on the DestinationAustralia website which remind us of the heartache people faced in leaving their homeland and their courage they had and needed to travel across the world.

Thank you for the opportunity to send this message to you.

I trust you will find this evening provides fascinating insights into the story of how we came to welcome millions of migrants who have contributed to the rich tapestry that is contemporary Australia.