Thursday, 10 March 2022

It is a very great pleasure for Rod and me to host the Governor’s Multicultural Awards here at Government House.

For the past 15 years, the awards have enjoyed a high reputation in South Australia, and I thank my predecessors Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce and the Honourable Hieu Van Le for establishing and growing them.

I recognise, in particular, the strength of the Honourable Hieu Van Le’s commitment to multiculturalism from the moment he stepped onto Australian soil. It is one of the reasons South Australians admire him - and Lan - so much.

I am mindful, therefore, of the responsibility I now carry in stewarding these awards.

They highlight the importance of understanding and respecting diversity; bridging cultures; and harnessing the skill, energy and enterprise of all us who call South Australia home.

While we have come from different backgrounds, we are all drawn together by a desire to make a lasting and positive contribution to our State.

As Governor, I was pleased to be able to give assent, a fortnight after I was sworn in, to the South Australian Multicultural Act 2021.

The Act includes a Parliamentary declaration recognising and acknowledging, firstly, the cultural, linguistic, racial and religious diversity of the people of South Australia and, secondly, that diversity is an asset and a valuable resource benefiting South Australia.  In the words of the legislation, it “brings richness to the South Australian community”.

Interculturalism, or the policies and practices that recognise and promote a deep understanding of, and respect for, all cultures in the community, and which recognise and promote a dynamic, inclusive interaction between diverse groups within the community, adds a further dimension.

In Monash University’s 2021 Mapping Social Cohesion Survey, 84 per cent of all respondents agreed with the proposition: “Multiculturalism has been good for Australia”.

For South Australia, support for the proposition was even stronger at 88%.

That says much about our commitment to multiculturalism, as does the strong bipartisan support – evident again this this afternoon - for these awards.

We began with the ancient, rich and enduring culture of the first Australians.

Since European settlement in 1836, South Australia has had a proud history of welcoming people from all over the world: European pioneers, post-War migrants seeking sanctuary and a new life, settlers from our near region, refugees from strife-torn countries; all bringing diverse perspectives.

Abiding cultural and spiritual bonds have developed over many generations.

Intercultural understanding and respect for each other’s values, views, skills and contributions has been nurtured and has grown.

And this, in turn, has helped ensure that our State remains a shining beacon of multiculturalism, not only in Australia, but across the world.  This is our proud story.

It has been a joy to return to South Australia and see people determined to work together and to reject division.

That was clear when CALD leaders encouraged their communities to keep our State safe by rolling up their sleeves and becoming vaccinated against COVID.

The expertise and perspectives that multiculturalism brings us not only connect us with trade partners, they enable us to be more outward looking and they draw us closer to the people of other nations.

Right now they draw us closer to the people of Ukraine as they suffer invasion by Russia.

Our hearts are with the 1,000-strong Ukraine-born community in South Australia and we share their anguish for family, friends and former homeland.

Finally, I thank everyone who has contributed to making the Governor’s Multicultural Awards a success.

Thank you to those who nominated a person or group deserving of recognition.

Thank you also to the judging committee, and its Chair His Honour Judge Rauf Soulio, for your dedicated stewardship in selecting winners in nine categories from more than 90 nominations.

I thank those – including each of you - whose passion, dedication and hard work makes South Australia an enviable place to live.

Occasions such as this afternoon’s are important because in celebrating multiculturalism, we celebrate who we are and what we aspire to be.