The Western Sydney Australia Day Community Reception was held on Thursday 26 January 2017 at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, South West Sydney.
Early in January, the invitations for the event were sent by Mr Mike Baird, but due to his resignation and selection of the new Premier of NSW a few days earlier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian was the star at the celebration of Australia Day.
There was a delay in the start of the program due to injury to one of the performers and the large contingent of community leaders had to wait outside the venue till it was safe to enter the premises.
Tina Bayle as the MC welcomed the new Premier and the community leaders including Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year and Young Australian of the Year, past and present.
Acknowledgement to the Country was given by Aunt Morgan who pointed out that on Australia Day while some celebrated the arrival of first migrants, others grieved due to obvious reasons.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked Aunt Morgan and acknowledged that we should be proud of the Aboriginal history as the longest history of the first people of Australia.
She welcomed the prominent guests and the community leaders from Western Sydney and said that people present on this Australia Day represented Australia in different ways.
“My story is no different than your story. My parents came to Australia as migrants in the 1960’s. My father was a boiler maker/welder while my mother was a nurse. They would have never imagined that their daughter specially with a surname like Berejiklian could ever become the Premier of NSW”, she frankly admitted.
Addressing the diverse variety of community leaders, Premier Berejiklian further added, “you can achieve anything in this country and you can achieve anything in New South Wales. I believe all of you represent Australia Day today. I appreciate all the challenges you have faced and I get inspired by you.”
“Thank you to your community and thank you for being part of this great city of Sydney”, She concluded.
Wearing a white and red flowery dress, the new Premier was mobbed by the crowd after her address to shake hands and take selfies, evidence of her growing popularity among people of Western Sydney.
Mr Ahmet Yamakoglu, a migrant of Turkish origin who became an Australian Citizen in 2011 was selected to talk on what Australia Day meant for him.
“I came to Australia 10 years ago and this new land has become my home. I found easy acceptance by the society and love its values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, fair go, equal opportunity and Australian multiculturalism like different colours of a butterfly.” Mr Yamakoglu said,
He further added, “I know that when facing challenges, I can lean on my mate and more importantly, my mate can lean on me in difficulty.”
Mr Ahmet Yamakoglu who is the President of the Australian Universal Federation of Education & Culture based in Liverpool has worked for the development of Amity College that has now excelled as one of the top educational institutions in Western Sydney providing educational excellence for all Australian students from diverse background.
The formal program was followed by entertainment that included a rope dance and an Allah song led by Uyghur singer Shohrat Tursun and the Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra with performers from a diverse background combining music from Aboriginal, African, Chinese and Asian traditions.
Following the Australia Day, the new Premier has moved swiftly to make her mark on the politics of NSW. She has refreshed her new cabinet following the resignation or removal of some familiar faces and appointed new ministers including three women.
The notable appointees include, Mr John Barilaro as the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Mr Brad Hazzard as the Health Minister, Mr Raymond Williams as Minister for Multiculturalism and Disability Services and Mr David Elliott as Minister for the newly created portfolio of Counter Terrorism.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said her new-look Cabinet represents a “fresh approach” that will give communities their “fair share” of the state’s economic success.