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SPEECH: Wagga Wagga FUSION Festival

It is a great pleasure to be with you at the 2022 Fusion Botanical Multicultural Festival in Wagga’s Botanic Gardens Precinct.

What a beautiful place.

I know that the Wagga Wagga City Council and its cultural partner, the Multicultural Council of Wagga Wagga, have worked hard since 2011 to develop and grow this festival.

All that hard work has certainly paid off, because this event has grown to become a much-anticipated showcase of cultural diversity, multicultural artistic talent and delicious multicultural food.

The size of the audience before me shows just how popular the festival has become.

As the Minister for Multiculturalism, I’d like to give all of you who call Wagga Wagga home a big shout-out.

This is because of how you continue to welcome anyone, regardless of background and experience, into the local community,

Wagga Wagga is renowned for the help you give to refugees and humanitarian entrants - many of whom are distressed and fleeing dreadful situations - as they build new lives in their new homeland.

This compassion and eagerness to help our newcomers seem to be shared across the Riverina.

So renowned is the region for these qualities that it was chosen as one of two pilot sites for the NSW Growing Regions of Welcome program, also known as NSW GROW.

This is the NSW Government’s regional resettlement pilot program.

The two regions – the other is the Murray – were selected because of the availability of diverse jobs, housing and infrastructure, and the availability of settlement and mainstream services.

But a big, big factor was the welcoming and supportive nature they share.

Ladies and gentlemen, I commend you all for your hospitable spirit and kindness.

You have helped to transform lives.

I note that Mayor Tout told us in his speech between you, as residents of Wagga Wagga, speak 107 languages.

This is wonderful because multilingualism is one of our greatest assets.

Recognising this, the NSW Government has made a record $28 million investment into my agency, Multicultural NSW, which will help train new generations of interpreters and translators.

This will ensure that essential government information and advice reaches everyone.

Australia has historically welcomed migrants for many reasons – to address skills shortages, create opportunities and contribute to our development.

People come here because they value the hope and opportunity that Australia offers us all.

And no matter who we are, where we come from, or what language we speak, we all want to give back.

I appreciate that all of you here this evening, including those of you who are new to Wagga Wagga and the Riverina, exemplify this spirit.

Mayor Tout, I thank you and your team for organising this wonderful festival.

Ms Crain, I thank you and your Multicultural Council of Wagga Wagga team for throwing your weight behind it.

And ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your commitment to our social harmony and your support for our multiculturalism.

You’ve helped to make our cultural diversity a jewel of our State.