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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3313

Mr VARVARIS (Barton) (10:36): It was a great honour to address the Asian community at Cahill Park recently, on the auspicious occasion of the Summer and Falgun Festival, organised by Desperate YOUTH Australia. I was among representatives from Rockdale City Council and the St George Migrant Resource Centre, and the President of Desperate YOUTH Australia, Mohammed Abu Saleh. I was certainly privileged to witness and take part in the community's cultural celebration of the month of Falgun, a season in the South Asian calendar. Falgun brings with it merry celebrations of spring, friendship and new life.

The organisers of this festival, Desperate YOUTH Australia, provided the community with an opportunity to meet together in a colourful and enjoyable setting. More than just enjoying a social community occasion, it was a privilege to witness the vital work that Desperate YOUTH Australia does for youth across my electorate. Its South Asian Youth Group of St George provides migrant youth with the opportunities they need to thrive and connect.

The earliest stages of life are the most formative, and isolation during the teenage years can often be a stumbling block to growth and the ability to flourish. The isolation that can accompany migrant experiences in Australia can serve to compound the challenges that young people face. As a government, we must be looking out for social initiatives that will prevent complex and irreversible social issues in the future.

Migrant-focused schemes, such as resource centres and ethnic groups, are working at the grassroots level to mitigate huge potential costs to governments in the future. That is why youth groups, and initiatives that focus on engaging with migrant youth in particular, are so invaluable to the wellbeing and future of the youth who participate, and to the prosperous future of the community as a whole.

I really cherished the opportunity to engage with the diverse groups that make up my local community at Cahill Park from South Asian nations such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Pakistan and Indonesia, as well as the broader Barton electorate. Through my attendance at this and other cultural events over summer, I am constantly reminded that members of our community have come from many different places, with their own stories and journeys, but today we make up one nation that can live together in peace and prosperity.

I commend the tireless efforts of Desperate YOUTH Australia and other charitable groups in providing vital services to the community. I commit myself to a partnership with them in assisting them in helping the community within the diverse Barton electorate. It is so important that government continues to partner with community organisations such as these. It is our shared efforts that will make our nation the best it can be for our youth, our migrant Australians and the wider community as a whole.