Menzies Hall, Dandenong North, VIC
Eid Mubarak ladies and gentlemen, friends,
I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are meeting, and pay respect to their Elders—past, present and emerging; and to the Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.
It is a delight and privilege to join you for this event. I thank Aisha Mahboob and the Afghan Women’s Association of Victoria for the kind invitation.
I also acknowledge the Australian Muslim’s Women’s Centre for Human Rights, who are supporters of this celebratory event this evening.
Afghan Australians are an important part of our diverse society, and have contributed to the economic, social and cultural landscape of modern Australia.
Afghan people were among the earliest settlers in Australia. Many arrived as cameleers, helping to open up the Australian outback for European settlers.
But the majority of Afghan people arrived in Australia as a result of military and civil unrest in Afghanistan from the late 1970s onward.
Today, there are almost 67,000 people in Australia of Afghan or Hazara ancestry, including almost 30,000 women.
You are among more than 600,000 proud Australian Muslims who celebrate Eid-al-Adha each year—one of the most significant celebrations in the Islamic calendar.
It follows the end of the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, and commemorates the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim.
It is a time for families and friends to unite in prayer, gather for feasts, exchange gifts, and to help those in need.
I am proud of the fact that in this country, we respect and embrace the rights of all Australians to practice, celebrate and maintain their religious and cultural traditions, within the law.
Australia is made up of diverse groups of people with differing cultures, experience, beliefs and traditions—hailing from all over the globe. Australia has prospered from the contributions of more than 300 ancestries—from the First Australians to the newest arrivals.
Today, Australia is one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world. Our nation has long stood as a fine example of a country comprising people of different faiths and cultures who live together in harmony.
We owe our success to our shared values, because Australians are not divided by our differences but united by the things we have in common.
We believe in individual freedoms; in the rule of law; in democracy; and equality, regardless of cultural background, gender, race or religious beliefs. These values inspire respect, community spirit and a willingness to help those in need.
Such values are evident in the work of the Afghan Women’s Organisation Victoria. For the past decade, the organisation has been working to support Afghan women in Melbourne’s Dandenong and Casey municipalities.
Your efforts have made a real difference to many Afghan Australian women—helping them to participate in Australian society, to make a contribution, and to make the most of the opportunities this nation offers.
Australians value the enduring connections we share with many communities around the world—a result of our diverse multicultural society. Indeed, the proceeds from tonight’s party will go toward a project helping to promote self-sufficiency and empowerment among women in Afghanistan—your ancestral home.
I thank the Afghan Women’s Organisation Victoria for its continued commitment to spreading messages of peace, companionship, opportunity and equality.
You must also be commended for your efforts to share the cultural traditions and religious observances of Afghan Australians with the wider Australian community.
I hope you all enjoy this Eid celebration. I am sure it will prove to be a great success.
Thank you for having me here today.