Bellino Banquet Hall, Carrum Downs, VIC
Ladies and gentlemen, friends,
I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are meeting, and pay my respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and the Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.
It’s a pleasure to be here with you to celebrate Indian Independence Day.
I would like to thank Dr Sharad Gupta and the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria for organising this evening’s event.
I would also like to acknowledge:
- Mr Raj Kumar—Consul General of India in Melbourne;
- Victoria State Government representatives:
- Mr Matt Fregon, Member for Mount Waverley; and
- Ms Sonya Kilkenny, Member for Carrum;
- Mr Paramjit Jaswal—President of the Federation of Indian Multi Faith Organisations;
- Dr Gurdip Arora—Chairman of the Australia India Society of Victoria; and
- Mr Karan Gandhok—President of the Australia India Society of Victoria.
First, I would like to commend the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria for its work over the past three decades to unite the Australian Indian community. The association has been running since 1989 as an umbrella organisation for Indian groups in Victoria. It has continued to grow since then, now consisting of 28 Indian associations.
The federation has a proven record of serving, strengthening and representing the Indian Australian community, and helping to ensure that members of the community have access to the services they need.
India is a top source nation for permanent migrants to Australia. The Indian Australian community is thriving and is continuing to make a positive contribution to Australian society.
Since the 1800s, settlers from India have arrived in Australia. Many were agricultural labourers whose work helped to strengthen agricultural industries and boost farming communities in regional Australia. Others were businessmen, merchants and domestic workers, while some sought their fortune on the goldfields.
Today, almost 700,000 people of Indian ancestry call Australia home, including more than 230,000 people living in Victoria.
And in the past five years alone, more than 117,000 Indian nationals have taken the pledge to become valued Australian citizens.
Indian Australians continue to contribute to all facets of Australian society—as professionals working as doctors, teachers, computer programmers and engineers. You have reached the pinnacle of success in the arts, industry, sport and academia; indeed your success spans all fields of endeavour.
Indian migrants have been important contributors to our nation’s multicultural success story.
Together, people from more than 300 different ancestries have built a modern and prosperous Australia.
Today, nearly half of all Australians were either born overseas, or had one or both parents born abroad.
This vast diversity has been absorbed into our culture, and today we benefit from a unique mix of skills, experiences, food, music, culture and enthusiasm. The dinner this evening and the wonderful performances exemplify the richness of the Indian culture that all Australians can enjoy.
Australia’s cohesion and resilience comes from our respect for diversity and difference. In Australia we are not divided by our differences but united by the things we have in common—our shared values.
We believe in freedom; in the rule of law; and in democracy. That all people are equal—and should have equality of opportunity—regardless of their cultural background, gender, race or religious beliefs.
Our harmony and unity is precious. And our way of life must always be championed and protected.
As the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, I have the opportunity to attend activities and events with fellow Australians that celebrate this nation’s rich cultural diversity.
Today I have the privilege of joining you to celebrate the anniversary of Indian Independence—a momentous event in Indian history, observed on 15 August each year.
India is now the world’s largest democracy, sharing our liberal democratic values and commitment to freedom, with the spirit of tolerance and friendship.
Indian Independence Day provides an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate our cultural diversity and build a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indian culture and heritage.
I am pleased to be able to celebrate with you this evening and trust this event will prove a great success.
Thank you for having me here.