Close to 1,000 Sydneysiders braved the rain to march from Belmore Park in Sydney’s CBD to Victoria Park in Camperdown for the family-friendly festival and to show their support for a more compassionate, inclusive and welcoming Australia.
The Sydney arm of the national diversity celebrations, hosted by Settlement Services International and Welcome to Australia, promoted unity, respect and inclusion. Speakers included Welcome to Australia ambassador Mariam Veiszadeh, NSW Labor Party MP Jihad Dib, Greens NSW MP Mehreen Faruqi, and Racial Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane.
SSI Chairman Kamalle Dabboussy said events such as Walk Together were an opportunity to remind the wider Australian community of the importance of having a culture of welcome – something that was an extension of the country’s traditional values of mateship and a fair go.
Lawyer and former refugee Deng Thiak Adut encouraged the crowds to respond with love when faced with xenophobic and racist actions.
“If they hate you, love them back because love is more powerful. For this country and for us to move forward, we’ve got to love one another. We’ve got to love the kids and look to their future,” he said.
“I want you to ask yourself, what would my children think one day? What will we tell them when we’re old? Will we say, ‘I wish I could have done that’? That’s the most cynical thing to say – you can’t ‘wish’ you could have done it; do something right now. Let’s welcome each other.”
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, said what really made a difference to her parents when they came to Australia in the early 1950s as migrants from Slovenia was the friendship and welcome they received.
“And that’s something that every single one of us can do; every single one of us can extend the hand of friendship and show welcome.”
SSI said the day was a resounding success, as demonstrated by the diverse crowd that turned out to show Australian can be a nation known for its compassion, generosity and welcome.