On Thursday 28 September 2017, Affinity hosted a Lunchtime Lecture with the Hon. Zed Seselja, Liberal Senator for the ACT and Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs. The program was facilitated by SBS World News presenter and journalist, Ricardo Goncalves.
The title of the Senator’s was Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful, which is also the name of the multicultural statement that the Australian government released in March 2017. This statement served to renew the government’s commitment to a strong and prosperous multicultural Australia, as well as marking Australia as the most successful multicultural society in the world.
Using this document, Senator Seselja discussed how cultural diversity is one our strongest assets, and why we shouldn’t take our harmony and prosperity for granted. He also presented the Government’s vision and priorities going forward for Australia as a strong and successful multicultural nation.
Senator Seselja used statistics from the 2016 Census data to provide an insight into the complex story of Australian faith. “Although we all saw the headlines of 30 per cent of Australians identifying as not having a religion, the vast majority – 60 per cent – more than 14.1 million people – do identify with a religion.” he said.
“Australians come from about 300 different backgrounds and we speak more than 300 different languages, including Indigenous languages. We are becoming increasingly diverse – a fact that underscores the importance of the Government’s work in the multicultural affairs portfolio, and the work that organisations such as Affinity do to promote intercultural connection and understanding.
“While we are a nation of diverse cultures, we are united by common values. As an Australian of faith, I value the protection of freedom of speech, freedom of enterprise and freedom of religion and the importance of mutually respectful dialogue and understanding. Today, we bridge our diverse backgrounds, increasing opportunities for open and honest dialogue.”
Senator Seselja stated that Australia is one of the most multicultural societies in the world, due to our “fundamental values of mutual respect and mutual responsibility; our approach to a multicultural society is to maintain a safe and prosperous nation based on respect for Australian law and our shared values of respect, equality and freedom.”
The Assistant Minister ended his talk with an optimistic statement: “We are not a perfect country, but with consistent and deliberate effort from governments and local communities, we have built a diverse and inclusive, prosperous and free multicultural Australia. And that’s something we can all be proud of.”
The event saw an excellent turnout of 50 guests. Special guests in attendance included members of the judiciary, Consul-Generals, as well as journalists and CEOs from various religious, community and media organisations.
Photos and video recordings from Senator Seselja’s talk can be found below.