Multicultural Communities Drought Assistance
(22:43:54): I make a short contribution on this terrible drought that our State is currently experiencing. It is a crisis that is likely to be the worst for many decades. Farmers consider this drought to be the worst they have faced for years, which is impacting on them emotionally and financially. The drought has hit other States but New South Wales has been hit hardest. Approximately 99 per cent of the State is officially in drought. With grazing pastures turned to dust and feed scarce, the drought is having an impact on livestock and farmers alike. Desperate farmers are being forced to slaughter livestock by the thousands and it will take years for their numbers to recover. Farmers are struggling financially and are in psychological distress. Australia's culture of mateship and solidarity has always been an essential part of our national identity. People go out of their way to assist their brothers and sisters in need. They step up to the challenge when any part of our society is in need of help. This is what we have seen across multicultural Australia. We feel a great sense of pride when we see communities step up and join in to raise funds to help farmers who are devastated by this drought. Those communities have stood side by side to help drought-affected farmers.
In the middle of September Muslim Aid Australia, in partnership with other Muslim charities in New South Wales and Queensland, delivered 33 tonnes of hay bales to farmers hit hard by the ongoing drought. Three trucks rolled into Goondiwindi on the New South Wales and Queensland border, where the aid was delivered to dozens of farmers who are struggling to survive. Many more truckloads of hay bales are planned for distribution to farmers during October. On Sunday 23 September 2018 Human Appeal Australia commenced a charity ride organised by Sydney Muslim cyclists. More than $90,000 was raised for our drought-stricken farmers. The funds raised provided food hampers, water and hay bales for livestock as well as case support for some financial relief. Many mosques and Islamic centres across Australia have used the holy festivities to raise funds for affected farmers and their families. In early August a car convoy from the Russian, Indian and Nepalese communities left Sydney, delivering much-needed food and water to drought-stricken farmers in regional New South Wales, including canned food, coffee, toiletries and more than 8,500 litres of drinking water.
On 14 August the Pakistan Association of Australia celebrated Pakistan Independence Day, marking the nation's seventy-first anniversary with a fundraiser for drought relief. The United Indian Associations [UIA] Incorporated organised a walk from Sydney to Canberra to raise funds for drought relief in New South Wales. It called its initiative Our Farmers, Our Pride. On Saturday 22 September, UIA members set off from Parramatta and will arrive in Canberra on Monday 1 October. They hope to raise $150,000 for drought-stricken families. The Australian Chinese Community Association joined in the fundraising by holding a community drought relief charity concert, bringing together artists with big hearts, raising donations from many of their warm-hearted members. Mateship and multiculturalism have gone hand in hand, bringing the best out of our people regardless of their cultural origin, religion or ethnicity.
Australians have come together to provide the best they can for their colleagues in need. The drought has brought our multicultural communities closer, strengthening our bound. From adversity comes goodness and from diversity comes unity. I am delighted to note that my good friend the first Mayor of Bayside, His Worship Councillor Bill Saravinovski—otherwise known as "the people's mayor"—has thrown down a challenge to other councils. Bayside Council will donate $5,000 with an additional $1,000 for every donation of $5,000 that other councils make. I am informed that a number of councils have responded to the mayor's challenge. To date, they have raised $394,000, and there is more to come. On behalf of our hardworking farmers, I thank all our community groups, individuals, councils and institutions that have made a contribution towards drought relief by whatever means.