by Angela Ostojic
A group of people in vibrant national dress represented the countries of their birth at the launch of the Sydney Spring Festival organised by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority at Darling Harbour this week.
Among the guests were Catherine Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, and Victor Dominello, the State Minister for Citizenship and Communities.
“We’re so lucky to have over 192 different communities in Sydney,” Mr Dominello said. “My favourite saying is ‘come to Sydney and visit the world’ and I look around here and realise that you make that saying true.
“But it’s all the volunteers I’d like to thank. When we have these various community events, I know how much the volunteers drive these events; you really do make our city come alive. We are so lucky to live in Sydney, where on any given weekend, you could probably go to any corner of Sydney and see a different community celebrating their culture and their identity.
“There are about 10 different communities taking part with their cultural festivals in the season, and about 25 in total throughout the year.”
Mr Dominello said he was moved to see different communities, such as the Serbian community, taking part in the Festival. “The Serbian community is not a big community, but it is very close knit, and when they come together they are friendly and hospitable. I love the Serbian costume, it’s very intricate, and the dance, it’s very amazing,” he said.
“What I love is you’ll have the Serbian festival but because it’s in an open space here, it’s not just the Serbians who will come, there will be people of Italian background, people of English background, people of Chinese background, they all get a lens on the world.”
For groups wanting to welcome other communities into their festivities and events, Mr Dominello suggests they contact the Community Relations Commission and the Ethnic Communities Council to get advice on other relevant community groups and organisations who could join in.
Catherine Gallagher said it is important that minority cultures are invited to display their culture and identity.
“They’re part of our community and represent all of the wonderful things that make up a multicultural society. And certainly at Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority we have a commitment to community service, and we will service all those communities who want to be supported.”
For those communities not yet involved in the Festival, Ms Gallagher advises contacting her organisation by telephone or through the website and making a submission of interest
“All groups are welcome, it’s a matter of getting organised and mobilised and being part of the community,” she said.
She said these communities have enhanced the multiplicity of representation in the precinct.
“The precinct is always changing and every community is welcome. It will continue to change and evolve and it will make the city the richer for it.”
And of the bigger cultural communities, Ms Gallagher referred to the Greek community which held its 30th Greek Festival at Darling Harbour this year. She said that while it started out in a small way, it had grown and now Sydneysiders regularly attend.
“The more the merrier and the richer the place is for it,” she said.