Letter to the Editor The Age 19 January 2010

Unless we make the decision to welcome everybody to Australia and accept that there are differences but, as long as people settle here and obey the law and accept that diverse views, diverse ways of thinking and different religious beliefs do exist and can coexist as demonstrated to date in Australia. Governments in Australia encourage the retention of cultural and religious heritage within a framework of laws, regulations and rights and that’s they way it should be.

 You can’t judge others from the position that one is always right and one is absolutely wrong. We need tolerance and an acceptance that we as a society must respect each other for who we are as individuals, the same (as humans) but different. It is expected those in high positions or those held in high regard in our community are responsible when they speak in public.

 What we need is strong leadership from those who can influence public opinion. They should be positive and see the glass is half full not half empty. We have a strong community now we don’t want to derail all the efforts of those who’ve gone before to build a harmonious and successful society.

 We agree with General Cosgrove in his Australia Day Address that multifaceted society like Australia cannot be blind to the existence of some level of intolerance but as he says, we shouldn’t be complacent about it but face it head on.

 We must not take it for granted that we’ll always remain the ‘lucky country’ but we need to work on finding ways to welcome our new arrivals and help them to be a part of our society through integration not through assimilation.

 We can not ignore the fact that Victoria is leading Australia and the world in protecting multicultural identity. In acceptance of the Indian community, Dandenong (South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne) provides a good example where an Indian precinct exists and Indians live and trade harmoniously with the rest of the community. The attacks in the western suburbs of Melbourne have not yet been established as racist but we wish to work with Victoria Police on finding a mechanism to take it beyond any doubt either way.


Sam Afra JP


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