On his first outing on the job, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman, surrounded himself with hundreds of children, many of migrant background in national costume—as guest at the 20th anniversary of the Children’s Festival in Bankstown.
Speaking at the event held on Tuesday, the new minister said Australia was “the best country in the world and part of the reason for that was the way all our different backgrounds and cultures come together living in harmony and all getting behind Australia”.
“It was a fantastic idea 20 years ago to have the kids of the community come together to celebrate all our different cultural backgrounds in one place, coming together as Australians,” he said.
Praising Thuat Nguyen, the founder of the festival, the Minister said, “It was a fantastic idea then. It is a fantastic idea now and it will be a fantastic idea for decades and decades to come.”
Mr Nguyen hailed the 20th anniversary festival the best ever: “We saw the centre of multicultural Bankstown pulsate with the music, the colour and the aromas that cultural diversity brings to our country, punctuated by the squeals of delight and excitement of Aussie kids of all backgrounds enjoying themselves.”
He said the children’s festival is about culture and “about fun and both were in abundance”. This cultural meeting and mixing paves the way for a united community of the future when today’s kids are in charge.
“We got a very clear insight into the thinking of our future leaders in the words written by some of the entrants for an Essay writing competition on the subject Why we should have a Children’s Festival?”
He said, for example, one 12-year-old wrote: We are the next generation. As children, we are still learning what’s right, wrong and logical (and) having a children’s festival in this influential stage in our life could tell us to put aside our differences and have fun together.
The festival has further expanded its cultural education programme for children by inviting community groups to present a display of their history and culture within the festival grounds. Punjabi, Scottish, Vietnamese and Macedonian groups took part this year.
The next Children’s Festival will be staged at First Fleet Park at Circular Quay, Sydney, on 10 March 2019.