SPEECH - AFRICA DAY CELEBRATION, BLACKTOWN - 28 MAY 2016

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(Acknowledgements omitted)

We are here to celebrate the mass independence of African countries from colonisation in the 1950s and 1960s.

For far too long, people across Africa in many different countries were governed not according to their own direction or by members of their own community but from foreign capitals.

Celebrating the end of this injustice is important.

Memories of those times remain and are passed down through families, friend and communities.

It is important to remember these times as they help shape what to work towards in the future.

Here in Australia, we know what to work towards and how to get there.        

I want to speak briefly on the contribution different African communities have made to our area and then on what more we achieve together.

While newer than other migrant communities in Australia, African communities make such an important contribution across the country, across Western Sydney and particularly here in Blacktown.

The parade earlier showcased the colour and excitement.

I know here in Blacktown there are a number of different communities.

The Sudanese. The Ghanaian.

There are people from Kenya, Liberia and Ethiopia as well as those from Sierra Leone and Uganda, not to mention others.

Australia’s African community is growing. As your local Member of Parliament, it gives me joy to see this growth. I am proud of it.

Unfortunately, we have seen divisive comments in the past, hurtful comments, that do not help the settlement journey of our newest migrants. They do not help our community come together.

Nearly 10 years ago, some of these comments were directed at the Sudanese community.

You only have to look around Blacktown to see how wrong these comments were.

People from Sudan, people from other African countries, inject a sense of community spirit here in Blacktown and across Sydney.

From the cultural contribution through art, sport and food to the social and economic contribution of business leaders, academic researchers and workers.

These are not the activities and passions of people who make society a lesser place.

These are the actions and daily lives of people who are making Blacktown and Australia a better place to live.

One thing in particular stands out and that is the spirit of volunteerism. I look around and I see people giving up their time, pitching in and helping out.

Instead of spreading fear about integration, critics should come out to Blacktown and see just how successful new communities have settled.

I’m thankful to represent a part of Sydney and a part of Australia where I can experience this not just by attending a festival like this one but from meeting a small business owner or chatting at a train station.

More work to do

Over the last three years, I’ve spoken and discussed many issues across different local communities.

And I’m convinced; there remains much more work to do, particularly for economic participation.

We need to do better with providing everyone a proper opportunity in the workforce.

People need the right support, from skills training, recognising existing qualifications and language.

We need to work hard to overcome discrimination in the workplace, when employers look to hire new workers. It’s not good enough if people are ignored because of the colour of their skin.

Discrimination harms all us of. We owe this to every single member of our community.

I am especially concerned about people are exploited in their workplaces. Bosses who take for granted our laws about wages and conditions must not be tolerated.

These are issues I regularly consider and think about how to improve. I will continue to fight to resolve these issues.

Multiculturalism

I want to finish on what African communities mean for Australian communities more broadly.

Across the world, walls are going up in societies. People are being separated in their own countries by division and a lack of community spirit.

This is not the case here in Blacktown. Today’s event showcases how much binds us together.

We have worked hard – together – to get here. It has taken sweat, tears and time, the road has been long.

Our diversity is our strength yet we also know we all abide by the same rule of law and the principle of equality under the law.

Thank you.

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  • published this page in Speeches 2016-05-28 15:16:08 +1000