Multiculturalism on a perfect spring day in Bankstown

By Poornima Koonath
Photo: Warren Duncan

Thousands of Bankstown children and their families took advantage of the perfect spring weather to flock to Paul Keating Park to enjoy the annual Multicultural Children’s Festival on Sunday, 17 September.

This was the 19th festival organised by Mr Thuat Nguyen who told the crowd during the official opening, “This is a fun day for families because it is a wonderful time to share different cultural experiences, to be together and to have fun in harmony. The festival is a wonderful contribution to the multicultural fabric of our society.”

Photo: Warren Duncan

Representing the Minister for Multiculturalism, Ray Williams, the Member for Holsworthy, Melanie Gibbons said during the official opening of the festival, “The NSW Government is so proud of our harmony and our difference. Festivals like this break down barriers between communities and allows us to enjoy the vibrancy of music, dance and entertainment that exists right here in our community.”

The Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism, Sophie Costis told the gathering that one of our most important freedoms is that although we come from different cultures we are able to practice our language and culture freely and pass it on to our children and grand-children. “What you saw in the parade today was young children promoting their language, their culture, their heritage and their ethnicity,” she said.

Photo: Warren Duncan

Member for Bankstown Tania Mihailuk also spoke at the event, reminding parents and children they very fortunate to live in such a diverse multicultural society. “We speak 60 languages and practice one hundred and fifty cultures in this Bankstown region and it is festivals like this that help highlight why we are such a blessed community,” she said.

During the day children of all backgrounds performed traditional dances and songs enthusiastically along with modern hip-hop and jazz numbers in both community specific groups and in mixed background groups. They also engaged in kite-making, face-painting and a host of other fun activities.

Photo: Warren Duncan

The spectacular children’s parade displayed the costumes of many traditions including Aboriginal, Arabic, Russian, Philippine, Bosnian, Indonesian, Macedonian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Nepalese and Scottish traditions. They were joined by children of many backgrounds in their Scouting uniforms.

Member for Lakemba and Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib, in his address, spoke of the need to acknowledge and respect children. “They are a perfect symbol of what Australia really is—a country where every single person is valued, every single person is special and every single person brings something unique that enriches our nation. That is why Australia continues to be the very envy of the world,” he said.

Meanwhile children of many different backgrounds featured in the list of winners of the poster competition on the theme Water is Life run in conjunction with the festival. Mr Thuat, founder and president of the Children’s Festival organisation, thanked Canterbury Bankstown Council, Multicultural NSW and many local sponsors who made the festival a big success.


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