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Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services Australia (MARSS) branding launch, Canberra


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good afternoon, everyone. Linda and I are delighted to be with you.

Today’s official unveiling of your new name, MARSS Australia, and brand, is a momentous day for your organisation and wonderful news for migrants, refugees, humanitarian entrants and asylum seekers to the ACT and surrounding region.

As Patron, it makes me very proud.

And, for you, it is recognition of the important work that you do, the quality of advice that you provide and the high standard of service that you deliver. And, by expanding, you will ensure you can meet the needs of migrants in today’s Australia. Congratulations.

And how fitting that today’s function is being held in a multicultural centre named after the late Theo Notaras — someone who dedicated the best part of his adult life to helping fellow migrants and who made an outstanding contribution to multiculturalism in Australia.

Linda and I look forward to inspecting your new one-stop-shop and hearing more about your plans shortly.

As I look around this function hall I see many Ambassadors, High Commissioners, senior officials from the embassies and high commissions, CEOs, politicians — testament to the standing MARSS Australia has in the community and the important work it does in helping migrants to settle here.

Australia is probably one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world with more than 100 regions represented and more than 300 languages (including Auslan) spoken in our homes.

But that doesn’t mean migrants don’t need a helping hand once they arrive. They need to be warmly welcomed at the port of entry; they need to be informed of the next steps; they need assistance with basics such as housing and utilities; and they need to be introduced to their local community. There’s a lot to do.

Thankfully, we have organisations like MARSS Australia that provide a one-stop shop for migrants who are seeking advice and access to support services, including help with English! As I often say, learning a people’s language is a great way to understand their culture.

But, language to one side, I know that MARSS Australia also arranges multicultural events and forums and provides services as wide ranging as housing for the homeless, leadership development, computer and sewing classes, assistance with homework and driving lessons. All of these things are critically important to migrants’ sense of belonging and wellbeing.

It stands to follow that migrants who are happy and settled will go on to make their own contribution to Australian life — all of us benefit, and we become a better, more inclusive society.

Put simply, it’s organisations like MARSS Australia that help to make that happen.

So, thank you for what you do. You bring a wealth of experience to the community and charitable sectors. You have made the provision of settlement services your vocation and, in many instances, helped to make dreams come true for people migrating to Australia.

Congratulations again on your new status. I wish you every success.