National Multicultural Festival - Speech

National Multicultural Festival
Constituency Statements, House of Representatives
Wednesday, 14th of February 2024 

Canberra's multicultural story goes back to the 1940s, when skilled migrants flocked to the capital region to work on the Snowy Mountains Scheme. When Canberra Week began in 1977, it starred Al Grassby, the godfather of Australian multiculturalism, and honoured the First Nations and migrant communities. The National Multicultural Festival began in 1996 and has become our city 's largest festival, drawing support from volunteers in the diplomatic corps.

This weekend Canberra will celebrate the National Multicultural Festival, the event made possible by the dedication of numerous communities. I want to acknowledge some of the unsung heroes today: Andrew Yan and Robert Feng from the Chinese showcase; Jo Chivers and Duncan Smith from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander showcase; Toa Takiari and Elena Sione from the Pacific Islander showcase; Deepak Raj Gupta from India in the City; Tracy Dennis from the European village; George Karkazis from Greek Glendi; Lauren Harvey from Contact Canberra; Gonzales Olmos from Latin American Quarters; Bianca Abreu from Latin American embassies; Trevlyn Gilmour and Alicia Doherty from the USA showcase; Brooke Thomas from the belly-dancing showcase; Charles Koker from the African village; Malcolm Buchanan from the Celtic Irish showcase; Jacqui Dillon and Mandy Scott from community languages; Franco Papandrea from the Italian community; Suren Deonarain from the festival parade; Helen Musa from City News; and Lee Donnelly from Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets.

The festival thrives on the support of community members, volunteers and organisations like the Australian National University, represented by Ashley Zmijewski, who ensure its success. And, of course, we can't forget the role of public servants such as Anita Perkins in the Community Services Directorate and the leadership of Minister Mick Gentleman. The festival community reference panel of Giovani Alvarez-Cano, Ambreen Atif, Kofi Bonsu, Malcolm Buchanan, Ruchika Goel, Luka Musicki, Toa Takiari and Chin Wong provide guidance, ensuring the festival's growth and relevance. I acknowledge, too, the festival's directors, remembering the late Domenic Mico, and celebrating the leadership of Azra Khan and Jayne Simon.

The success of the National Multicultural Festival has been reflected in it winning an award for the best Australian community event at the 2023 Australian Event Awards. From humble beginnings, the National Multicultural Festival has evolved into an event that annually attracts over a quarter of a million attendees. It is testament to Canberra's transformation into a cosmopolitan centre, enriched by the contributions of individuals from over 170 nations. As we celebrate today, let us be inspired by the shared traditions and continue to build a festival that celebrates diversity, fosters understanding and enriches our community.

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  • Georgia Thompson
    published this page in What's New 2024-02-14 13:46:42 +1100

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.