As we approach Australia Day, we have an opportunity to reflect on and embrace the diversity of our community.
I understand that this time of year can be painful for some Australians and not a cause for celebration. I am always open to further discussions about what unites, rather than divides us.
It's important to consider the impact European settlement has had on the lives of First Australians, indeed how lives were so dramatically disrupted.
I also want to ensure we honour our indigenous heritage, recognise our shared history, and work together to heal the hurt of the past and reduce ongoing inequalities.
I am committed to finding a way we can be a more inclusive Australia.
For Northern Tasmania, I believe the occasion is also an opportunity to reflect on the way our community embraces diversity and migrants.
As a member of parliament, and in my previous role as a mayor I have had the great privilege to take part in Citizenship ceremonies where we welcome people from all corners of the world. It is fair to say that experience will be even more powerful this year as we consider what it means to live in Australia.
One of the most common themes I hear from Northern Tasmania's migrant community is how desirable our region is to live and raise a family.
This is demonstrated in the eagerness of new Australians to contribute to our shared community, whether that be through the workplace, schools, neighbourhood centres or sharing culinary and cultural experiences.
One fantastic example is the work of the Launceston Nepali Cricket Club which, through a combined community effort, has found a new home ground at Brooks High School and is now playing A-Grade in the Tasmanian Cricket League for the first time.
I am proud to support this emerging club with its vision and drive. Members of this club are so appreciative of the opportunities that are presented to them through living in a community like northern Tasmania.
It is interesting to note that according to the 2011 Census, there were just 59 Nepalese-born residents living in Mowbray. Today there is closer to 2000 Nepalese living throughout Launceston.
The work of the Nepalese community underlines the wider migrant story in northern Tasmania.
For generations, we have witnessed the strong work ethic of new Australians in employment or through their own small businesses, as well as a tremendous sense of community that enriches us all.
I am continually motivated by what migrants bring to a society which can often be decidedly different from their home country.
A few months ago I was honoured to be invited by the Multicultural Council of Tasmania to talk with some local migrants to break down any perceived or real barriers that may exist so they can have their voices heard.
Ensuring engagement and participation in all levels of government is important to our democratic process, and was a valuable experience for me.
Similarly, I have been engaging with members of the Migrant Resource Centre's Thrive program. I have learned so much from these wonderful young people about the challenges they have faced and their hopes for the future.
It's been uplifting to hear about the work they are doing in running school holiday programs to engage new young migrants in the community and tell the stories of the resilience of our northern Tasmanian migrant communities, particularly during the pandemic.
I also recently enjoyed spending time with the Women's Friendship Group, primarily involving Hazara women from Afghanistan. I was so inspired by their resilience, sense of grace and hope about life in Australia.
In my role as a community representative, I am continually moved by stories such as those of Hazara women and the circumstances that have led them to seek a better life in our country.
In turn, so many migrants are equally lifted by our democratic process and how they have such open access to members of governments at all levels.
It is a further way to reflect on our democracy. As Australians, we often enjoy a robust discussion about politics.
It can become particularly vigorous through social media commentary, there's no doubt about that.
But when we go to the polls we value and protect our non-violent democratic process and the orderly transition between parliaments.
We should all be very proud of that.
I know migrants are also so grateful for the support of devoted volunteers who are working in our community to help new Australians settle in northern Tasmania.
I would encourage others to find the opportunity to speak with migrant communities about what it means to come to Australia and to make them feel welcome.
However you chose to mark Australia Day, I would ask everyone to reflect on the contribution new Australians have made for generations.
They have helped shape who we are and the diverse community to which we all belong.
- Bridget Archer, Bass Liberal MHR