It is easy to forget that NSW is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse places in the world.
Each year, around 70,000 people settle in NSW. Most arrive with their families as skilled immigrants who are offered entry into Australia to supplement our ageing workforce and address skills shortages. Additionally, about 7,000 people are recognised as refugees each year and gain the right to settle permanently in NSW.
Census data shows us that 26 per cent of the NSW population was born overseas, and one in five people born in NSW have at least one parent who was born overseas. At least one in five people in NSW speak a language other than English at home, and more than 200 languages are spoken in homes across the state.
We have a strong history of championing cultural and linguistic diversity. NSW was the first state in Australia – and the second in the world – to introduce a government policy specifically designed to welcome cultural and linguistic diversity as a social and economic advantage.
For almost four decades the Community Relations Commission has been the body entrusted with advancing the NSW Government’s support of multiculturalism in the broader community. It works with all communities across the state to promote peace, understanding and tolerance, irrespective of social unrest and conflicts taking place overseas.
In recent days, Vic Alhadeff has made the decision to resign from his role as Chair of the Commission.
The CRC should always be working to promote harmony, and I support Mr Alhadeff’s decision to stand down following concerns raised by the Arab and Muslim community.
Few people have done more to promote inter-faith engagement and understanding between the Jewish and Muslim communities in NSW than Mr Alhadeff. I thank him for promoting harmony and have no doubt he’ll continue to be a strong advocate for peace and tolerance in our community.
We are now searching for someone to fill the role of Chair and I am positive about the future for that role, as well as the ability of the CRC to continue an open dialogue with the multicultural communities of NSW.
Our diversity at times presents challenges. However, it has also shaped the multicultural society we live in today, where people of so many faiths and backgrounds live harmoniously as neighbours in peace.