Devi Ghimire and Guna Majhi
(Oct. 3) Three members of BCA (Bhutanese community in Australia Inc.) attended the two-day county conference organized by Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) on October 29. Mr.Parsuram Sharma Luitel, President and Teju Chauhan, spokesperson and media coordinator of BCA from Melbourne and Albury, with one member from Bhutanese community in Northern Territory, Ms Bhakti Mainaly represented the resettled Bhutanese of Australia in the conference held at East bank Centre, Shepparton in Victoria.
The FECCA is the peak body of the ethnic communities in Australia to raise its voice to reach the Federal government of Australia on the issues of the ethnic communities. It also lobbies the govt to bring changes in policy issues, refugees settlement and facilitation, social inclusion and multiculturalism.
The FECCA conference is a platform where strong and powerful bodies of government as well as non-government agencies, communities, organizations gathered to express their opinion and seek government attention.
The Prime Minister of Australia Hon. Kevin Rudd and Her excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, AC Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia had sent their respective video messages as opening remarks.In the video message, the Australian Premier pronounced the word ‘MULTICULTURALISM’,a term no other bodies had used in the previous years’ FECCA conference.
The Bhutanese Community in Australia Inc. was invited to exhibit photos in the conference which would highlight the history of Bhutan, Southern Bhutanese and the causes of their eviction, and successful settlement in Australia with photos of recent cultural festivals, news articles of success stories of the Bhutanese. The participation by new community from Bhutan in the conference has given the better understanding of the Bhutanese refugees settlement in Australia and world wide, and history of Bhutan featuring the darker side of Bhutan hidden under the cocoon of Gross National Happiness propaganda of Royal Govt of Bhutan.
The very exhibition magnified the potentiality of Bhutanese in the view point of Australian communities and important icons in the government. Among the guests in the conference were Hon. Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship; Hon. Laurie Ferguson, Parliamentary Secretary, Settlement Services and Multicultural Affairs, and many VIPs including state minister from Victoria, heads of govt. agencies, academicians, and Ethnic communities representatives from across Australia.
The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Evans stressed on the need of more facilities to the refugee youths, multicultural Australia and Social inclusion as the main focus of the govt. in the refugee settlement.
The Minister said, “Of the total new arrival of refugees, 45% are under 18 years of age, 70% of the new arrivals are under 30 years. In this in mind,the govt is working on Multicultural Youth Strategy which will be announced soon.”The minister also said that 1 in 4 Australians are born overseas and most Australians have one parents born overseas, including his own parents.
(The duo are the correspondents of Bhutanusa.com in Melbourne, Australia)