Good morning ladies and gentlemen, friends; it is a pleasure to be here with you all.
My thanks go out to the Samoan Community Advisory Council of Victoria Incorporated and the Cantoa Community for having me here today; thank you for making me feel so welcome.
In particular, can I acknowledge:
- Mr Canada McCarthy, President SCACV Samoa Community Advisory Council Victoria Inc
- Cr Lara Carli, Deputy Mayor City of Melton
- Cr Cynthia Watson, Boroondara City Council
- Dr Ivan Stratov, Senior Member of the Victorian Liberal Party
- Bishop Semu, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and
- Pastor Faiumu, Christian Congregational Church of Samoa
As the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, I am looking forward to attending events with my fellow Australians from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Today's festivities celebrate Samoan Independence—a celebration which is observed by Samoan diaspora the world over. It is very pleasing to see the traditions of the proud Samoan culture being honoured nearly 60 years after Independence was achieved in 1962 and more than a century after the earliest migrants from Samoa came to Australia.
Today's celebrations not only serve to keep alive these cultural traditions, but also provide an opportunity to share some of the unique and vibrant culture of the Samoan people with the wider Australian community.
Samoans' interaction with Australia dates back to at least the early nineteenth century, when Samoans aboard whaling and trading vessels made intermittent contact with Australia. This in turn led a small number of Samoans to migrate to Australia—drawn by commercial and educational opportunities—a trend which has continued through to today.
This occasion also serves as a reminder of all that the Samoan community has done to enrich our multicultural nation and make our culturally diverse society one that provides opportunity for future generations. The business and professional fields in Australia abound with migrant success stories, and the contribution of the Samoan community is reflected in many endeavours.
According to the most recent Census, there are now more than 75,000 people in Australia who identify with Samoan ancestry.Of these, more than 17,000 reside here in Victoria—making valuable contributions to our great state.
For me, events such as today's celebrations highlight that Australia is truly one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world. Australia is made up of diverse groups of people with differing cultures, experiences, beliefs and traditions—hailing from all over the globe.
We are stronger as a nation because of our multicultural heritage forged over thousands years. First through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and more recently by people from all corners of the earth.
Together, people from more than 300 different ancestries have built a modern and prosperous Australia. Nearly half of all Australians were either born overseas, or had at least one parent who was born abroad.
As a nation built from migration, we are, in the main, a tolerant, respectful and inclusive country. Today, all Australians—irrespective of their colour or their creed—are part of a country whose social success is unparalleled in human history.
Where diversity has been shunned in other parts of the world, it has been embraced in Australia. Diversity has been absorbed into our culture and today we benefit from a unique mix of skills, experiences, food, music, culture and enthusiasm.
We are one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world. Our society is stable, cohesive and united—built on a foundation of 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, race or religious beliefs.
Celebrations such as those underway here today, reaffirm to me that this will continue to be the case.
Ladies and gentlemen, once again, thank you for having me here this morning at this celebration of Samoan Independence.
I am thankful for the opportunity to meet with Victoria's wonderful Samoan community and I hope that you all enjoy the remainder of today's festivities.