International Students Welcome 2015

(5.45pm, Sydney Town Hall)

Thank you, Jeremy, [MC] and good afternoon, everyone. A very warm welcome to Sydney, and to Town Hall. We are delighted to have you here.

We are delighted that you've chosen to study here, and we hope it marks the beginning of a life-long connection with our City. You're now part of Sydney's global talent pool.

Here at the City, our priorities are to make you feel welcome, to watch out for your well-being and to give you opportunities to practise what you've learned in the classroom.

Our award-winning International Student Leadership and Ambassador program, or ISLA, was launched in 2013. It provides training, mentoring and practical work experience for international students and I think Linnea, a current ambassador, could attest to its worth. And I'd like to thank all the ISLA ambassadors here tonight who helped make this event such a success.

Tonight, I encourage you to introduce yourselves to each other and make new friends. Also please take advantage of the many service providers who are in the Vestibule to offer their services. There are representatives of the police and fire brigade, the surf life savers, legal assistance and fair work advice all here to support you. And as you are new to our City, we want to make sure you choose your accommodation carefully, so there is material at our City stall that will guide you to suitable accommodation.

Sydney's universities are leaders in research, whether biomedical research or economic and social policy. Their graduates include some of Australia's and the world's most successful academics, specialists and business figures. They've produce five Nobel Laureates, six Prime Ministers, and two Governors-General.

They also have close ties with the business and commercial world, meaning you can gain real industry experience as part of your degree.

Sydney is a great place to practise your English language skills. Aside from the universities, there are over 150 smaller institutions offering vocational, education training and English language courses for people from different language and cultural backgrounds.

As Australia's global gateway, Sydney has always been a magnet for people from many cultures and today, no less than half of our residents are overseas-born, whether from Asia, Europe, Africa or the Americas.

It is this mix of cultures, stories and experiences that make Sydney such a vibrant place to study, work and live.

You'll find that Sydney offers a range of fantastic experiences. Our Youth Centres host a number of programs to which you are always welcome, and you're entitled to a discounted entry to our aquatic centres like the Prince Alfred Park Pool, which is a great Sydney favourite.

Prince Alfred Park also provides tennis and basketball courts, and fitness equipment, and for more passive recreation, there are Hyde Park and Sydney Park, or Rushcutters Bay and Pirrama Parks both on the harbour.

We also have excellent, multi-lingual libraries and you'll find a lot of useful information on the City of Sydney website, which is available in 10 different languages.

I hope you will make time to explore Sydney's lively cultural scene, and get to know our diverse city villages while you are here.

I also encourage you to get involved in your local community, and take up volunteering opportunities to learn more about Sydney, its people and its culture.

I hope this marks the beginning of an enduring connection to our city. I wish you a happy and productive time here, and once again, I welcome you all most warmly.