Springvale City Hall, Springvale, VIC
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we are meeting on today, and pay respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.
As the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, it is truly a pleasure to attend your Onam Festival, and I thank Dr Shaji Varghese and the Melbourne Malayalee Federation for the kind invitation.
And I would also like to acknowledge:
- Mr Raj Kumar—Consul General of India in Melbourne;
- Councillor Youhorn Chea—Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong; and
- Mr Vasan Srinivasan—Member of the Australian Multicultural Council.
# # #
Onam is one of the most important annual events of Australia’s Malayalee community, whose ancestral links are found in India’s Kerala state.
The Onam festival celebrates the bounty of nature and marks the homecoming of the Asura king Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.
At the heart of Onam is community, togetherness, generosity of spirit and righteousness. It is a time to unite and celebrate in harmony and friendship.
And importantly, today the wider Australian community has the opportunity to share and appreciate the food, dance, music, games traditional costumes and flowers that exemplify Kerala’s rich and vibrant culture.
# # #
It is hard to imagine a modern Australia without the contributions of other cultures.
Australia is made up of many diverse cultures and religious groups hailing from all over the globe coming together to prosper—united by shared values: freedom, equality, the rule of law and democracy.
We owe our accomplishments as a nation to the contributions of more than 300 ancestries—from the First Australians to the newest arrivals.
Indian Australians have been a part of the Australian community since the 1800s.
Today, around 700,000 people of Indian ancestry—including Malayalee—call Australia home, of whom more than 230,000 live in Victoria. More than 50,000 people in Australia speak Malayalam at home, including almost 17,000 in Victoria.
In 2017-18, India was the largest source country of new permanent migrants to Australia.
And it is pleasing to see that over the last six years, more than 135,000 Indian nationals have taken the pledge to become valued Australian citizens.
Today, Indian Australians contribute across all facets of Australian life—succeeding in business, education, medicine, science, engineering, the arts and sport—and making an outstanding contribution to Australia’s multicultural success story.
I congratulate the Melbourne Malayalee Federation for its work to celebrate Malayalee culture and values, and promote engagement with the broader Australian community.
The Federation’s work contributes to a cohesive and active Malayalee community that lives harmoniously within Australian society.
Thank you for having me here today and I wish you every success with your celebrations.