Shared cultural events a reminder of our cohesion
In recent weeks, we have observed Easter, Ramadan, Passover, Vaisakhi, and many other New Year and cultural celebrations.
These occasions are all a reminder of the cultural richness we enjoy in Australia as a result of our successful multicultural society; and of the strong social cohesion we have achieved.
These inter-cultural ties helped us look out for each other through the long and challenging months of the pandemic lockdowns and assuage their resultant social, economic and psychological impacts.
The pandemic now appears to be receding, but we are faced with the terrible situation in Ukraine, where as many as five million people have fled the country and almost as many more have been displaced internally.
While we are on the other side of the world, it is pleasing that we at AMES Australia are able to make a small contribution to what is a humanitarian catastrophe.
Our settlement and housing teams have been welcoming and supporting Ukrainians who have fled their home and made their way to Australia – many of them children or young people.
While it is uncertain what the future holds for Ukraine and its people, we all hope for the best; and we are working with the local Ukrainian community to support the people who have arrived in Australia.
And I would urge everyone who can to join the Ukrainian community in their fundraising appeal, Concert for Ukraine, on Saturday May 7 at the Melbourne Town Hall.
Perhaps, when the crisis in Ukraine is over, its fallout will radically change the way we think about and treat refugees.
We may already be seeing a change in how Western democracies call out and react to human rights abuses and the persecution of ethnic or faith groups more generally.
The manner in which Europe and the west have galvanised in the face of Russian aggression is a cause for hope.
Perhaps in future, if the west has stood up against aggression and genocide in Ukraine, it will find it more difficult to refuse to do so elsewhere.
As the federal election approaches, it will be gratifying to see many of our clients and former clients vote for the first time.
I often hear from the communities we work with about how much people value living in a democracy and having the right to vote – something many Australians see as a chore on a Saturday morning every three years or so.
It’s a reminder of how important it is to be engaged in the political process and that the process itself is inclusive, civil and respectful.
Whoever wins on May 21, AMES Australia stands ready to work with whoever is in government to deliver our programs and services and work to support diverse communities and our multicultural society.
Cath Scarth, AMES Australia CEO
22 April 2022