By Maria Smith
What could be more refreshing than an afternoon tea on a hectic and hot Friday with the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, the Honourable Robin Scott, while bouncing off ideas with other community-minded people at the Lyrebird Community Hall in Carrum Downs on 16 February.
Running a bit late for his Lyrebird engagement, Minister Scott humbly expressed how he did not foresee such a warm welcome and half a dozen invitations from various community leaders which included Australian Filipino Community Services Managing Director Norminda Forteza proudly presenting the Minister with this year’s AFCS calendar outlining the organisation’s major projects to cater to Filipino-Australians particularly the elderly.
In his succinct speech, the Minister acknowledged volunteers who he fully believes are often taking roles in leadership while showing respect and openness to others, constantly trying to engage everyone in society through the values of a loving and caring relationship, and a sense of belonging. He urged everyone particularly the young ones to come forward and work together, and take the opportunity to contribute with a sense of duty as he reiterated, “this is what multiculturalism is about”. He concluded by focusing on the importance of helping others as this is vital to the viable existence and success of the whole community.
Local Member for Carrums Sonya Kilkenny was also in attendance and shared the Minister’s view that multiculturalism is celebrated in Australia’s culturally-rich and diverse society.
She also thanked volunteers for their incredible work, and the community as a whole for getting so much more out of these positive and proactive relationships.
While enjoying Devonshire teas and freshly-made sandwiches, community leaders mingled and mirrored each other’s views on how enriching it is to connect with communities and to make a difference in the lives of culturally-diverse Australians. For instance, Philippa Rayment of the Human Rights Group in Mentone shared her feelings on how important it is to inculcate in people’s minds the value of human rights especially in this climate of negativity and pockets of abuse around us. She has extended an early invitation for a Human Rights Day at the Mentone Community Hub.
Other community representatives present included Professor Nava Subramaniam of RMIT University, representing the Malaysian community; Syrian women advocating for the protection of newly-arrived Syrian refugees; and the Hindi leaders who were happy of their funding grant. Australian Multicultural Senior Support Group President Fe Gillies also shared the latest “Dance for Health” Wednesday night activity at the Dove Hall to promote good health and wellbeing.
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