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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4413

Ms STANLEY (Werriwa) (19:29): I am proud to live in a diverse and vibrant multicultural community. South-west Sydney comprises people from all walks of life with a range of backgrounds and stories. It is a strong community because of its diversity. For many migrants and refugees, their journey to Australia has been a tough one. Some are here because of war and famine, others because of study or work. But all are here to make life better for themselves and their family. Family is important to all of us and especially so for migrants from parts of the world with a different language and culture than ours.

Strong links to family and community mean migrants are better able to succeed in their homeland. This benefits all Australians. Successive Australian governments have understood this, and that's why family reunification visas have been a part of the Australian migration program for decades. Therefore, I was shocked to learn that, without warning or consultation, the government had drastically increased the assurance of support requirements in April. This would have meant the amount families in my electorate were required to earn to act as financial backers in a range of visa categories—most notably, parent visas—would increase by more than double. More outrageously, these proposed changes were not grandfathered, meaning families already well down the visa process suddenly had the goalposts moved. I have fielded calls from some very distressed constituents who are happy to abide by the rules but couldn't reconcile such a change without warning. Thankfully, due to pressure from this side of the House, the government has since performed another one of their backflips.

The migrant communities of Werriwa are an important part of my electorate and they deserve to be treated with respect and fairness. Their contributions help build a stronger community, and I'm always grateful and honoured to attend the many events held in my electorate and throughout the south-west of Sydney. I was fortunate to attend the Kstigarbha Bodhisattva blessing and purification ceremony for the new Buddhist Hall at Bonnyrigg that was done on behalf of the Australian-Chinese Buddhist Society. Among those who joined the formalities were representatives from local community groups, New South Wales Police, colleagues from local council and state parliament, and many hundreds of community members. It was a very impressive achievement and I congratulate all those involved.

Last Sunday the Timorese community celebrated the anniversary of the restoration of the independence of Timor Leste. I joined members of the Sydney Timorese community, the Timorese United Association, for celebrations last week at Wetherill Park. There were stirring speeches from those members present and the Consul-General here. This restoration is still fresh in the minds of many of those in attendance.

Another important event I have recently attended was the 23rd Flores de Mayo celebration. It has many vibrant colours and beautiful displays, especially the Santacruzan. I always look forward to joining my local Filipino community for the many special occasions they hold during the year. I am looking forward to the approaching 120th anniversary of the Philippines declaration of independence from Spain, in June this year. I recognise this and the other significant milestones for Filipinos everywhere.

Macarthur Diversity Services celebrated 25 years of aged-care services last week. For the last 25 years they have provided services to over 400 residents, with dementia care, community visits, aged disability services and other things for older people in my community. They are supported by well over 80 volunteers and they are an asset to our community. We in this place all know how much work our volunteers do and how much wouldn't happen without them.

Occasions like all of these that I have detailed are an integral part of the fabric that makes up my electorate of Werriwa and the wider south-west Sydney community. Whether it is Chinese, Timorese, Filipino or other events throughout the year, including the many iftars I'll attend during this month of Ramadan, or events held by Mandeaen, Hindu, Bengali or local Indigenous communities, it is wonderful to be able to join them and celebrate with them.