Children’s Festival 2016
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Can I start by adding my acknowledgment of country.
Can I also acknowledge:
Mr Thuat Van Nguyen (OAM), President, Children’s Festival Organisation
My federal and state parliamentary colleagues and local councillors
Ladies and gentlemen
As Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, it is a pleasure to be here today.
I thank the Children’s Festival organisers for inviting me to this wonderful event.
The Children’s Festival reminds us Australia’s rich cultural diversity is well worth celebrating.
With one in four of us born overseas, we are one of the most culturally diverse nations.
And our combination of social cohesion and economic prosperity is the envy of the world.
As a child growing up not too far from here, I had classmates who came from all over the world.
In the playground, we were all Aussie kids. And in class, we all brought different talents and experiences to our school work.
Diversity was part of my life.
Today I realise how enriching these experiences had been, and how much they were to reflect the experience of modern Australia.
This was a microcosm of what Australia has become.
Back then I was sitting in class with Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Anglo and Indigenous Australians.
Today, at my children’s school, students come from an even wider mix of countries and cultures.
They are making friends with new arrivals to our shores, from places such as Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Korea and China.
The Children’s Festival is just one of many examples of Australians of all backgrounds coming together to celebrate our cultural diversity.
Promoting peace and harmony within the community, the Children’s Festival encourages understanding between different cultures and faiths by reinforcing children’s positive values.
Accepting diversity comes naturally to children.
This event is also for us grown-ups. The Children’s Festival helps to remind us that in acknowledging our diversity, we also have much in common.
We all take part in the joy of raising our children or spending time with nieces and nephews.
We come across many of the same challenges in raising our children too.
As adults, we need to lead. We need to show our children what can be achieved when we come together to celebrate diversity, and to recognise the strength our diversity brings to all communities.
While Australia lives this diversity every day, we celebrate our cultural richness on Harmony Day, the 21st of March.
Harmony Day is a day for all Australians to acknowledge the social and economic benefits of cultural diversity. It celebrates inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
The Commonwealth Government is proud of our diversity and is committed to maintaining and building a prosperous and cohesive multicultural Australia.
I wish the festival, the organisers and the children here today all the best. Have fun!