On Monday 4 June 2018, the AIS in partnership with the Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Finance the Hon Robin Scott MP and the Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs & Scrutiny for Government Ms Inga Peulich co-hosted the 13th Victorian Parliament Iftar Dinner at the Sofitel Hotel. This was the AIS’ 18th annual iftar dinner event.
This year’s event was MC’ed by Ch7 Sunrise breakfast program’s Nathan Templeton who mentioned his involvement with the Iftar dinner programs was through his family’s attendance to home iftar dinners organised by the AIS for the last 2 years. Minister Robin Scott commented on the success of multiculturalism in Victoria and acknowledged the contribution of the Muslim community alongside others in making the state resilient to overcome the challenges it faces. Ms Peulich also highlighted Victoria’s successful multicultural communities and talked to its successes through her own story, from the time she came here as a child to now being able to represent her constituency as a parliamentarian.
This year’s Keynote address was given by Oxfam Australia’s CEO Dr Helen Szoke AO. Helen mentioned this was a ‘coming home’ of some sorts as she partook in a study tour to Turkey a few years ago organised by the AIS. She also talked about the role Oxfam is playing in combating poverty and wage inequality through their sustainability and development programs. She mentioned that no amount of charity will ease the spiralling inequality that exists in developing societies and that we need to ask the hard questions and challenge policies. She emphasised businesses needed to pay their fair share of tax and value the power of the individual in their ability to be productive employees and responsible citizens of their respective nation.
Floor reflections were offered by some of our distinguished guests. The President of the Court of Appeals Justice Chris Maxwell highlighted the importance of dialogue as it forms the mechanism to build awareness and understanding. The ABC Morning Breakfast program’s Michael Rowland remarked that some corporate entities are evolving as society evolves. He gave the example of ABC and how it is becoming more diverse in its workforce. The Richmond FC Chairperson Ms Peggy O’Neal reflected on how important it is to reach out to everyone in community and making them feel a part of society. She discussed the wide range of programs her club is doing in particular through the Bachar Houli programs to work towards that goal.
A stirring poetry recital was done by Ms Dilara Ilhan who challenged us to speak up against injustices. The Vote of Thanks was offered by Victorian Multicultural Commission Chair Ms Helen Kapalos who reflected on how she gets to see the breadth of the Multicultural community activities across Victoria. She gets encouraged when youth and females play a greater role in promoting the successes of their cultural heritage and actively are involved in working towards solutions for community challenges. The AIS wishes to thank its sponsors, supporters and everyone who attended the program and for making it a memorable night.