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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1184

Ms VAMVAKINOU (9:33 AM) —I would like to bring to the attention of the House a very significant event that took place in my electorate marking the fourth anniversary of the Fiji-Australia Day celebrations. Since the first time the event was held the celebration had gone from strength to strength, and the fourth anniversary I attended on 9 October was no exception. The celebration was organised by the Fiji Social and Cultural Organisation of Victoria Australia under the leadership of its national president, Mr Ardimulan Pillay. It attracted more than 500 participants, with the Consul-General of Fiji, Mr Reginald Hodgeman, as well as the Victorian Multicultural State Representative, Mr Shushil Sharma, amongst the many guests. As a result of the event’s growing popularity, this year’s celebrations had to be divided into two parts—sporting events, which took place during the day, followed by the official dinner and cultural dance in the evening. I am told by the National President of FSCOVA, Mr Pillay, that next year’s celebration is anticipated to attract an even greater audience and in order to facilitate that demand they are going to need to run it over a period of a number of days. So it will grow into a very large festival.

While I was there watching the celebrations, I was very impressed by the resident Fijian community and its commitment to and support of the broader local community and, of course, Australia, the country that its members now call home. Community organisations like FSCOVA have recognised the need to develop community harmony through such activities, and in this sense Fiji-Australia Day celebrations contribute immensely. A Commonwealth national settlement report entitled Settlement needs of new arrivals 2006 acknowledges the benefits of multicultural festivals and the integral role they play in inviting and assisting new arrivals to participate in sporting, cultural and recreational groups. The festivals also serve as a means of providing more information to the broader community about the new arrivals and help prevent any cultural discord that may arise as a result of unfamiliarity with new environments. Victoria has several thousand Fijian families that are settled in its north-west, so it comes as no surprise that FSCOVA’s several thousand supporters statewide are active participants in this festival. Organisations such as FSCOVA have contributed a great deal in enabling Victoria’s Fijian-born community to forge a new identity based on shared heritage and experiences, a community in which Fijian Indians, ethic Fijians and others are now united as Fijian Australians. This community is an example of the success that new arrivals can experience through social interaction and participation. (Time expired)