May 23, 2017

Acknowledgement of heritage and culture

Next month we celebrate Refugee Week from the 18 to 24 of June.  The theme is “with courage let us all combine”. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees. It serves as a call for unity and to acknowledge the skills and contributions that refugees and migrants bring to their new home.

We celebrate the positive contributions to Australian society, made over the past 70 years, by millions of Australians who once were migrants and refugees. Fairfield City over that time has been at the forefront in supporting and welcoming refugees and migrants to our City.

Last week Council conducted its 913th Citizenship Ceremony, and 64 years after our first ceremony, over 90,000 people have taken their pledge in Fairfield City to become Australian.

Migrants and refugees pledge alliances to our flag and country, however, the journey they have travelled is represented through their flags and emblems, which symbolise their journey; the fleeing from their homeland; the family and friends they have left behind, giving them a sense of belonging and cultural pride.

We are all proud to be Australians. Recognising where we have come from, our heritage and the journey we have travelled to Australia, is important in shaping ours and the nation’s identity. Many in our community place great value and significance on items which hold symbolic meaning of their cultural history, respecting the journey they have taken to Fairfield City, while also giving people a sense of belonging to Australia.

Since I’ve become Mayor I have had many discussions with passionate people representing local organisations from Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia and African communities who are all proud Australians and proud of their heritage. 

Recently, the President of the Vietnamese Community of Australia, NSW Chapter, Dr Thang Ha has made strong representation to Councillors, highlighting how important this is to the Vietnamese boatpeople.

Many of the Fairfield Vietnamese Australian boatpeople identify with the Co Vang consisting of a yellow background with three red strips as a symbol of their identity, heritage, their journey and their fight for freedom and democracy.

Assyrian and Chaldean organisations, such as the Assyrian Universal Alliance, the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the Chaldean League and others, have also made representations about the importance of expressing their cultural identity, their heritage and the journey they have taken to Fairfield City. 

The emblems displayed on the Assyrian flag represent their homeland, their ethnicity, language and culture that enables the Assyrian people to preserve their cultural heritage and identity.

Fairfield City is a testament to celebrating diversity.  We have ‘all the world’ in one place, we show an appreciation of different cultures, different communities, who all live side by side as Australians, under the Australian national flag. Fairfield City is a place where we can celebrate diversity, yet we have combined to live the Australian values, which include respecting each other’s heritage and culture and the freedom to allow cultural expression.

While the Federal Government is responsible for the Australian Flag protocols and the recognition of national flags, locally it’s important that we acknowledge and recognise emblems and symbols of our local community’s heritage.

In this term, I have had much discussion with Councillors who represent the diversity of our community and who have expressed to me the importance of acknowledging the heritage of our migrants and refugees and the importance of enabling cultural expression and cultural traditions.

So, tonight Councillors, I ask that you join me in acknowledging the many heritage flags, emblems, which symbolise our community’s journey to Australia and allow these emblems to be used on occasions of special significance.

So I recommend, that Council acknowledge:

  1. The many heritage flags and emblems which come from all nations across the globe, that symbolise our community’s journey to Australia and allow these communities to use these heritage emblems on occasions of special significance, as a symbol for ethic unity, cultural expression and celebration of diversity, including:
    1. The many heritage flags and emblems from across the globe such as Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia and African communities that reflect the journey and identity of our diverse community.
    2. The Vietnamese Co Vang heritage flag as a symbol of the Australian Vietnamese boatpeople and their journey to Australia; and
    3. The Assyrian heritage flag as a symbol of their homeland and the Australian Assyrian community’s identity and journey to Australia.

Frank Carbone

23 May 2017