Respect for everyone else is key to successful multicultural society

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Australians are united by our shared commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and to freedom of speech, religion and association, writes ANNE STANLEY, the Member for Werriwa, in this opinion piece:

Recently I had the opportunity to host and more importantly recognise volunteers in Werriwa (pictured above). This 8th annual recognition showcases the best of our community and our society.

These people have done wonderful things, not expecting recognition often over many decades. They organise support for flood victims in Lismore, have provided JP services for 50 years, deliver meals to people who are unable to do this for themselves anymore, ensure our children can play weekend sport, raise money, and support those living with a cancer diagnosis.

The news shows us images everyday of things which are disturbing and confusing and can leave us bereft of hope about what might happen next.

But in every circumstance, when something awful happens we see ordinary people run toward the danger, put themselves in harm’s way to protect people they don’t know – just because it is the right thing to do. What motivates them; what motivates volunteers?

Australia overwhelmingly is a peaceful collegiate nation. Australia has been a multicultural nation for millennia; the First Nations were a people of over 200 nations, since then waves of immigration have provided Australia with opportunities by welcoming people from all over the world, enhancing business opportunities with links of family and friends in other countries.

These connections to other places in the world mean that members of our community feel the impact of events elsewhere differently and personally due to their history and ongoing connections to the rest of the world.

Current events, in Gaza, Ukraine, and Sudan aren’t abstract for the people of Werriwa, as they involve places they lived or visited and people that they care about.

In embracing multiculturalism, we need to be sensitive and attentive to the concerns of all of our citizens.

Overwhelmingly positive for our country, multicultural communities have improved our communities in Australia.

But keeping this solidarity and community spirit takes work and recognition that we are not perfect, and we need to ensure that everyone is respected.

I am privileged to see this every day in Werriwa and the local area, so many diverse communities coming together to raise money for those less fortunate, helping in times of disasters or supporting each other and our community.

There is no space now or ever to disrespect people because of their ethnicity, religious practices or what they believe.

We all need to work hard to ensure that this is always the case.

The minister for citizenship’s words spoken at our citizenship ceremonies say it best: Australians are united by our shared commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and to freedom of speech, religion and association. Our diversity is our greatest strength, and we prosper by embracing this.

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