INDIAN AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:
That this council—
1. Congratulates the Indian Australian Association of South Australia for celebrating its 50th anniversary;
2. Acknowledges the commitment of the association's committee and volunteers, past and present, for continuously showcasing the vibrant Indian culture in South Australia;
3. Recognises the importance of its establishment and achievements over the last 50 years in the promotion and preservation of Indian heritage and for enriching the multicultural landscape of South Australia; and
4. Acknowledges the economic, social and cultural contributions by the Indian community in South Australia.
(Continued from 19 October 2016.)
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 17:59 :10 ): It is an absolute honour to stand here on behalf of the Greens to support the Hon. Jing Lee's motion acknowledging 50 years of the Indian Australian Association of South Australia. It is impossible to highlight this organisation's commitment to peace and harmony in such a short contribution, but I shall do my best. The Indian Australian Association of South Australia (IAASA) was formed by three Indian families—the Joshua family, the Maz-Um-Dar family and the Na-yak family—who initially set up IAASA as an informal social club to interact with the Indian community 50 years ago. At the time, there were only a few handfuls of Indian families residing in our state.
The social club was set up as a formal association at their AGM held in April 1974 and the executive committee was democratically elected. The association met regularly at the North Adelaide Primary School. These meetings were an opportunity for members to get together on a Sunday afternoon, read Indian newspapers and magazines, and converse over chai. If you have not tried traditionally made Indian chai yet, Mr President, I highly recommend it.
The association currently comprises over 250 families and is the peak Indian body of South Australia, representing the diverse culture of India. The association has organised many cultural events since its commencement with Indian cultural evenings, cooking classes, Indian food fairs, and Indian dance and drama during the Adelaide Festival of the Arts. Some of their most successful events include the Indian Mela, an annual food and cultural festival which occurs every year in the month of March at Elder Park and is celebrated by roughly 6,000 people. It is a privilege to be able to celebrate a vibrant colourful culture right here in our own backyard.
The Indian community of South Australia contributes both economically and culturally to our state, making it a diverse and multicultural place to live. The community promotes peace and harmony and has always sought to be an inclusive, welcoming community by inviting people from all walks of life and backgrounds to attend their events and festivals. I know many in this place have attended Indian festivals and events, in particular the Diwali festival, or as it is also known, the light festival.
It is vital then that we recognise some of the challenges facing our migrant communities. It was incredibly disheartening to read about the Campbelltown City Council's decision to reject the Punjabi Association of South Australia's application to host the Diwali festival at Thorndon Park. Councillors John Kennedy and Neville Grigg did not support the festival, with Mr Grigg saying, 'was no way known that they will be speaking English all day,' and Mr Kennedy said, 'We will probably get them turning around, shrugging their shoulders and saying 'me know nothing'.' The quotes continue:
I am not against multiculturalism, but ethnic groups do have a habit of hiding behind their language as we have seen over the years with certain groups in Campbelltown.
This is a classic 'I'm not a racist but' comment, 'I'm not a racist but I will make a racially discriminatory comment directed specifically at a migrant community,' as occurred in this particular case. It is perceived as acceptable that comments like this, the normalised language of racism, are often used to describe people of diverse and ethnic backgrounds. It is unacceptable.
I am still perplexed as to what the 'hiding behind their language' even means, but I will say that these sorts of racist and derogatory comments have no place in our community, society or our places of decision-making whether local councils, state parliaments or federal parliaments. I note that according to the 2011 Census data there are some 788 people who identify with the Hindu religion in the city of Campbelltown. This figure may well be up to 1,000 by now, so how disappointing and disheartening it is to know that we still have racism in that community.
I believe we need to encourage members of the migrant community to speak up against racism and support those who wish to make formal complaints to bodies like the Equal Opportunity Commission. If we, as parliamentarians, engage and celebrate the cultural diversity and the festivals, we should also be standing alongside them and empowering them to stand up together to eradicate racism.
The Greens were pleased to know that the State Government and the Adelaide City Council offered the Punjabi Association public parklands for the Diwali festival and that in the end it was a very successful event. It is due to the contribution of organisations like IAASA that we celebrate diversity, and I wish them another prosperous 50 years in advancing and promoting the Indian culture of our state.
The Hon. J.S. LEE ( 18:04 :11 ): I thank the Hon. Tung Ngo and the Hon. Tammy Franks for supporting this motion to congratulate IAASA on their 50th anniversary and to recognise the rich dimension the Indian community adds to the landscape of multicultural South Australia. Their contribution has enriched all of us in the way we have demonstrate ourselves and our heritage as a very multicultural state. I thank members for their support.