what's happening / news / SPEECH: STARTTS Refugee Ball 2022

SPEECH: STARTTS Refugee Ball 2022

It is a great honour to be here this evening and sincerely I appreciate the opportunity to briefly speak.

As many of you would have heard me say before, I truly believe our state is all the better because of our diversity.

Our diversity of culture.

Diversity of religion and faith.

And of course, the diversity of languages we speak.

You would have all seen in the latest Census that our diversity as a nation and indeed as a state is growing.

We now have people that come from 311 different cultures and ancestries.

People that practice 139 different religions and faiths.

And people that speak more than 280 different languages and dialects.

Although, there is one piece that is missing from these numbers—something, no amount of data collecting can really capture.

That is our diversity of lived experience.

These experiences shape the way we interact with each other and the world through unique insights, ideas and perspectives.

But we must empathise with and understand each other’s lived experiences so we can shape our society to be compassionate and inclusive.

Among those that add to our diversity of lived experience are refugees and people seeking asylum.

Though many Australians might not know where to begin to unpack the trauma and hardship embodied in such lived experiences, we must remain a country that people look towards for safety, support and, importantly, understanding.

It’s in this regard that STARTTS really makes a difference.

They offer hope and healing for those with scars of torture and trauma that most people can’t comprehend.

And STARTTS does this because they strive to ensure that those suffering from the scars of horrific lived experiences are free to rebuild their lives in NSW.

They take on staff who, through their own lived experience, can provide this culturally appropriate and sensitive support.

Again, this would not be possible without the great diversity of the community here in NSW.

The importance of this work cannot be understated, particularly with humanitarian crises remaining a terrible reality of the world we live in.

Since 2015, we have seen more than 33,000 people come to our shores in search of refuge.

It is because of organisations such as STARTTS, and the many others here tonight, that we have been able to help thousands to rebuild their lives here.

Both I and the NSW Government sincerely appreciate your work. And we’ve backed in this appreciation with funding.

For the past two years, we have provided NGOs with more than $16 million through Emergency Relief Support Grants to support people seeking asylum and those on temporary humanitarian visas.

While this funding is scheduled to finish at the end of the calendar year, I know the difference it has made for these vulnerable people.

Accordingly, I am pleased to share that the NSW Government will provide additional $3.65 million to continue our Emergency Relief Support Grants to June 2023.

By that time, I hope that the Commonwealth Government will have addressed the policy gap in financial support for people seeking asylum and those on temporary humanitarian visas.

Critically, we will also be extending STARTTS’s Witness to War Program, which has been particularly important for those who have fled to NSW from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

I believe in the work you do and so does the NSW Government.

Finally, I would just like to address some of the work that Professor Shergold has been doing in his role as NSW Coordinator General for Settlement.

I know that many of you have been involved in the development of the NSW Settlement Strategy with Professor Shergold and Multicultural NSW.

This is nation-leading work that will improve the settlement journey for individuals and families, who, whether or not by choice, make New South Wales their home.

Lived experience has been at the heart of the development of this Strategy, and I am really excited to launch it later in the year.

Thank you Professor Shergold, Joseph La Posta, Multicultural NSW, and all of the organisations involved in the development of the Strategy.

Once again, thank you everyone for the important work you do and for allowing me to speak this evening.

I sincerely look forward to continuing our relationship to support refugees and people seeking asylum.

I trust you will all have an enjoyable evening.