Diverse Tassie’s First Anniversary- Speech at Parliament session by Meg Webb-MLC Nelson

Ms WEBB (Nelson) –Delivered a powerful speech in Tasmania Parliament about Diverse Tassie read below the full transcript.

Mr President, today I am pleased to congratulate Diverse Tassie on its first anniversary.  Diverse Tassie is a monthly newspaper serving Tasmania’s diverse communities with news, views and events. 

It was started by three friends – Mohan Mattala, Rajat Chopra and Johnpaul Varghese.  These three had a dream, a vision of introducing a community newspaper for all Tasmanians to voice their ideas for building a strong, diverse and harmonious Tasmania. In many ways Diverse Tassie arose from the trio’s gratitude to the Tasmanian community –  a Tasmania that has embraced and accepted them irrespective of their varied backgrounds, and a Tasmania they believe has given them a better future and standard of living.  Mohan wrote to me saying, ‘We always wanted to give something back to the state which has given us so much.’

The first edition of the Diverse Tassie community newspaper was published in October 2019.  Since that first edition the newspaper has been printed monthly and distributed statewide.  It also publishes regular updates on various issues through social media and on its website, and organises and promotes events and forums around the state. 

Diverse Tassie’s mission is to bring communities together through sharing stories and perspectives that reflect Tasmania’s growing diversity.  Its tag line is ‘Bringing communities closer every day’. 

The three founders of Diverse Tassie identified that there was a vacuum of information for Tasmania’s diverse populations and they wanted to fill that vacuum.  Prior to the COVID-19 restrictions that we have experienced this year, Tasmania had seen an influx of international arrivals over the last few years. 

The University of Tasmania’s Institute for Social Change’s May 2020 Tasmanian Demographic Analysis SnapShot found that compared to 2018, 2019 saw net overseas migration to Tasmania increase by 6.8 per cent, or 2990 people, so we are on an upward trajectory, increasing our overseas migration and increasing our diversity.

The main source of overseas migrations was international higher education students, that was about a third; humanitarian entrants, which were about 17 per cent; and permanent skilled migrants, which were also around 16 per cent.  Over half of our overseas migrants were aged between 15 and 29 years of age, so in younger age brackets.

So how do we benefit from diversity in the state?  When we meet and live and work with people who are different to us, we are more likely to be exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking. 

It can lead us to reflect on why we do things the way we do, to examine our values and our beliefs, and this can open our eyes to the multitude of ways of doing things and can free us from the pressures to conform to a one-size-fits-all world view and approach to life.  Exposure to new perspectives can lead to a better, richer, more inclusive and truly accepting community. 

The team at Diverse Tassie is motivated to provide a positive and nurturing environment which can cater to the diversity of our rich and inclusive community.  Since its inception, Diverse Tassie has given particular focus to stories of silent achievers who have contributed so much to the Tasmanian community with little fuss or fanfare. 

This has included stories of various community organisations that are working diligently within their communities.  For example, in the November 2019 edition there was a story about an intercultural church hosting multicultural carols for different groups where they shared carols in their native languages, while in another example, the AFL football clinic for young women from refugee backgrounds saw players from the North Melbourne women’s AFL team passing on skills and tips on playing this traditionally very Australian game.

The newspapers also covered stories about the way different community organisations and government organisations have come forward to help Tasmanians during the time of the pandemic.  To highlight just a few :

  • the Refugee Communities Association of Australia and Help Himalayan Youth Foundation has provided basic food items to support 40 Rohingya asylum seeker families during Ramadan this year

  • Show Hope has provided curry meals and groceries to an average of 200 international students two nights a week, and

  • Subbies, a home away from home community for South Asian students during the COVID-19 time, has committed to providing food and daily essentials to those in need.

These are just some of the diverse and inspiring examples of positive contributions to our community made during a time of real challenge. In closing, I will quote the first paragraph of the first edition of the Diverse Tassie community newspaper.  It said – "Embracing and respecting the fact that every individual is unique and accepting him irrespective of his race, colour, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, political ideologies and other diverse differences is an ideal scenario for any healthy society to prosper"

We can all agree with that sentiment.  I encourage all Tasmanians to grab a copy of the latest edition of Diverse Tassie and join me in congratulating Mohan, Raj and Johnpaul on bringing this culturally rich and diverse publication to our state.

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