Living in Harmony

(Centennial Hall)

Thank you, Armondo. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Town Hall.

Thank you to Auntie Millie for her Welcome to Country, and I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

Welcome to the launch of our annual Living in Harmony festivities.

The City launched this celebration over a decade ago to promote respect, fairness and a sense of belonging.

And how appropriate that we continue to have this celebration as our City is the most multicultural in Australia, with residents from 200 different backgrounds speaking 140 languages.

Some of those are evident in today's performances, from the Aboriginal Dance Group who'll open the entertainment, to the Korean, Jewish, Thai, Persian, Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian groups who are here.

The theme for this year's festival is that everyone belongs and people with a disability and gay and lesbian groups are also participating as part of our diverse City family.

By highlighting and celebrating the wonderful diversity of our City, we help to make it safer, more welcoming and more harmonious.

Our global reputation rests in no small part on our remarkably diverse and yet cohesive population and our own lives are enriched immeasurably by it.

This year, I would like to pay tribute to a founding partner of our Living in Harmony Festival, the NSW Adult Migrant English Services.

AMES has been a fantastic contributor to our migrant communities, helping people settle and providing English language services for the past 60 years.

English classes help migrants with the basic tools of communication that will allow them to take part in community life, and we strongly urge the Federal and State Governments to continue to support adult migrant English language classes.

So congratulations to AMES, and thank you for all you do for our migrant communities, and for this festival.

Thank you also to the many national organisations, seniors groups and cultural and community groups - too many to name individually - who are our partners in delivering the 2011 program.

I also would like to thank Susana Ng and all the City of Sydney staff and students who contribute to making these celebrations such a success.

Have a wonderful time, everybody!