Clayton Hall, Clayton, VIC
Ladies and gentlemen, students, parents, teachers,
It’s a delight and privilege to be here for this Kalai Vizha.
From what I’ve seen of the concert this evening, I can confidently make two remarks:
First, unquestionably, ‘Australia’s got talent’.
And secondly, our nation’s future is in fine hands.
Students—your brilliant and entertaining performances this evening are a culmination of hard work and commitment.
Some of you may have heard of the great actor, Sir Michael Caine. If you haven’t, I’m sure most of your parents will have.
Sir Michael said:
“Talent will only get you so far. You need to add in boring old reliability if you want to endure… Most people will pick competent professionalism over erratic brilliance any day of the week.”1
I am certain that if you show similar dedication and competence off the stage—in your studies, pastimes, relationships and careers—you will not only be successful individuals, you will also make this country an even greater success.
# # #
On this special occasion, there are a number of people I want to acknowledge in particular:
- Mr Yoganathan—President of the Victorian Tamil Association;
- Mr Paramanathan—Principal of the VTA Tamil School;
- Mr Mayooran—Coordinator of VTA Tamil School, Glen Waverley Campus; and
- the Tamil School’s passionate Parent’s Committee.
To others present—teachers, parents and students—it is a pleasure to be in your company.
# # #
As the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, I have the opportunity to attend a variety of celebrations and events that showcase the cultural traditions of Australia’s diverse communities.
On behalf of the Australian Government, I want to thank all of you for your fine work and enduring efforts in promoting cultural development and understanding within the Tamil community and beyond.
In particular, I applaud the VTA Tamil School for your efforts to improve the learning of the Tamil language among your students and for your commitment to improving educational standards more broadly.
Not only do multicultural community schools play a vital role in connecting Australians with new cultures, they also help Australians to reconnect with the cultures of their ancestors.
This connection is critically important because, as a nation, we owe our accomplishments to the contributions of more than 300 ancestries, who speak more than 300 different languages.
# # #
Australia’s Tamil community has helped to make Australia the nation it is today.
While Sri Lankan migration to Australia dates back to the 1800s, the Tamil community remained relatively small until the 1980s. Today, an estimated 45,000 Tamils are among more than 150,000 people in Australia with Sri Lankan ancestry.
It has been our strength as a nation that we have successfully welcomed different cultures, from all around the world, while maintaining our own distinct Australian identity.
This is due to a social compact: that the existing population welcomes newcomers with open arms; and that newly arrived migrants do their best to participate fully in our society. Because in Australia what is important is the contribution you make, not where you come from.
Today, almost half our population was either born overseas or has at least one parent born overseas. Cultural and religious diversity is part of our everyday experience.
Every town, every suburb, every sporting club in our nation has immigration success stories—people who have worked hard, played by the rules, and dedicated themselves to building a better life. We should celebrate these millions of immigration success stories.
Where cultural diversity and freedom of religious expression has been shunned in other parts of the world, they have been welcomed in Australia.
I am proud of the fact that, in this country, we respect and embrace the rights of all Australians to practise, celebrate and maintain their cultural traditions, within the law.
Australians are not divided by our differences but united by our common values—freedom of speech and expression; the rule of law; and democracy. Values like freedom of expression and the deep appreciation of our diverse and united Australian community are not only reflected in the curriculum of your wonderful school, but also on the stage here this evening.
I commend the Australian Tamil community for its fine contribution to our proud multicultural nation. While you are nurturing passion and success among your student cohort, you are also championing the values that bring Australians closer together—regardless of our various cultural backgrounds, creeds, and unique individual histories.
May that continue to be the case for generations to come.
Ladies and gentlemen, once again, thank you for having me here today.