Almost a week before Australia Day 2017,  on Friday 20 January almost 800 people attended this year’s first Australia Day Lunch at Sydney’s new International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour.

Guests enjoyed performances by Guy Sebastian and the incredible Indigenous KARI Choir, who sang the National Anthem in Dharawal and English. The event celebrated the everyday heroism of ordinary people.

Seated close to the stage, honoured to be seated on the Multicultural NSW table, I got a fantastic view of the KARI Choir’s performance.

The highlight by far, was when they sang the first verse of the Australian Anthem in the Dharawal language and the rest of the anthem was finished with Guy Sebastian in English.

I had the pleasure of meeting new people and networking with representatives from government and the community sector.

This included George Bisas, Director of Language Services, Multicultural NSW, Pritika Desai, Creative Director at the Information & Cultural Exchange, Multicultural NSW, Cristina Felicio Multicultural NSW – Manager, Business Development & Client Relations, Multicultural NSW and Malcolm Haddon Senior Community Relations Adviser, Multicultural NSW.

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George Bisas (MNSW), Pritika Desai (ICE), Mobinah Ahmad (AMUST), Christina Felicio (MNSW), Malcolm Haddon (MNSW). Photo by Oneill Photographics.

Hosted by journalist Sarah Harris, the guest list included this year’s NSW Young Australian of the Year, Arthur Alla, NSW Senior Australian of the Year, Dr John Knight AM, and NSW Australia’s Local Hero, Josephine Peter.

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International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour. Photo by Oneill Photographics.

Reflecting further on the bravery and service of several NSW residents, in his final speech as Premier of NSW, Mike Baird said it was one of the great privileges and highlights of his time in public life that he got to meet them.

“It is why I leave in many respects with mixed emotions, but I know that this state and country will continue to be the greatest in the world because we have people like that, that make it so special”, Mr Baird concluded.

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Past Premier Mike Baird. Photo by Oneill Photographics.