The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja last night celebrated Deepavali and Australia’s diversity of languages along with over 150 people at Parliament House in Canberra.
Deepavali, or Diwali, is the annual ‘Festival of Lights’ celebrated by followers of the Hindu, Sikh or Jain faiths. It symbolises love, peace and the victories of good over evil – and knowledge over ignorance.
Joined by the High Commissioner of India, Mr Navdeep Suri, and a large number of Indian Australian leaders, Senator Seselja said he appreciated the level of diversity across our country, even within communities.
“We need only look at languages spoken in the Indian Australian community as an example of our rich diversity,” Senator Seselja said.
“In Australia, Hindi is fast becoming one of the most spoken languages at home. It was 10th in the 2011 Census, and migration statistics suggest it will move to eighth when the results of the 2016 Census are known.
“Our Indian Australian community is growing rapidly. India was the top source country of permanent migrants to Australia in 2015-16, and has been since 2011-12.”
Senator Seselja said other languages from the subcontinent spoken at home in Australia include Punjabi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Urdu, Kannada, Bengali, and Nepali.
“Although successive Australian governments have encouraged new migrants to learn English, we value the myriad of languages spoken in Australia – more than 300 of them, including Indigenous languages,” Senator Seselja said.
“Every language spoken and every culture celebrated belongs in Australia.
“We respect the rights of all Australians to celebrate, practise and maintain their cultural traditions within the law and free from discrimination.”
Senator Seselja thanked the Hindu Council of Australia, hosts of the Deepavali Festival event at Parliament House since 2004.