Blaxland Electorate: Bankstown Children’s Festival

The festival represents everything that Bankstown is about: a proud home to people from over 130 different countries who speak more than 60 different languages and a cosmopolitan and cohesive community where being Australian is not about where you come from but where you are going. Building a new Australia starts with our children playing together and living in harmony. That is why I am so pleased to rise today to thank the organisers of this important event.

Since the festival began 10 years ago, the numbers of children and parents attending the festival has soared from 4,000 to 15,000 on the weekend. It has grown every year, largely due to the hard work and commitment of its founder, Mr Thuat Van Nguyen OAM. His dedicated team of volunteers-Colin Platt, John Pestana, Gurpreet Singh, Mike Weatherly, Graham Tomkinson, Louise Tran and many more-helped to make Saturday a great success. This is not an event that takes a couple of weeks to organise. The committee are already back at work organising next year’s event. Together they are helping to build a better local community-a shining light to the rest of the world.

On the weekend the children enjoyed making lanterns and they got involved in poster competitions, rides and activities, lion and dragon dancing. There were table tennis competitions and, of course, a fireworks finale. This year the festival also included for the first time a healthy food and education cooking area, where children were taught how to make rice rolls and falafels. But the highlight of the day had to be the children’s parade, where young people dressed in traditional costumes from all around the world and marched together into Paul Keating Park in a celebration of youth and cultural diversity. The festival has a proud home in Paul Keating Park, a park named after a man with a deep commitment to a cosmopolitan and cohesive Australia. Kevin Rudd outlined his commitment to a cohesive Australia in his first speech as Prime Minister elect. He said he would be a ‘Prime Minister for Indigenous Australians; Australians who have been born here and Australians who have come here from afar and have contributed to the great diversity that is our nation, Australia.’ Earlier this year he honoured the sentiment of Paul Keating’s historic Redfern address when, as Prime Minister, he apologised to the stolen generations. On Saturday we witnessed a new generation, brought up with the same principles of social justice espoused by Paul Keating 16 years ago. They are the ones who are building a better Australia.

The long-term goal of the organisers of the children’s festival is for the festival to continue to grow and reach out to other areas of Sydney and eventually become a nationwide festival as a celebration of diversity in our country. If the weekend is anything to go by, they will be successful.’