Bhutanese Community

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:32): Last Friday and Saturday were very big days for the Bhutanese community in South Australia and beyond. On last Friday, the second Australian Bhutanese Conference was commenced at the Adelaide Festival Centre. I was very pleased to attend the opening ceremony, where the chief guest was the Hon. Chief Justice Chris Kourakis. I was delighted that the Hon. Jing Lee was there and spoke, representing the Premier and the government of South Australia. Also in attendance at the opening ceremony were the members for Badcoe and Reynell from the other place.

That conference was hosted by the Bhutanese Australian Association of South Australia (BAASA), an organisation I have had a lot to do with over a number of years. It is a very professional organisation, given the short amount of time in which people from that nationality—most of whom were forced to spend most of their lives living in Nepal before they came here—have put on a very professional conference, as well as all the other events that they have organised and I have been to. Delegates came from similar organisations in Sydney, northern Tasmania, Albury-Wodonga, southern Tasmania, Melbourne, Melton and Cairns.

The conference continued on the Saturday morning at the Victory Conference Centre in Pooraka where many more people were able to attend (being on a weekend). The conclusion of that conference was then followed by the 10th Settlement Day celebrations in the afternoon. A great feature of those celebrations was a special citizenship ceremony for 100 new citizens from within the South Australian Bhutanese community which was conducted by Senator Lucy Gichuhi, who is, of course, the first member of the Australian parliament who has a background from Africa. I know that Senator Gichuhi was humbled to have the opportunity to perform that role.

Having attended and spoken at several of the Bhutanese Settlement Day functions in the past it was a pleasure to speak on behalf of the Premier, the Hon. Steven Marshall, and of course the Hon. Jing Lee, who is very popular with all of the multicultural communities, noting that it was the exact 10th anniversary of the settlement of the first Bhutanese refugees in South Australia and Tasmania on 12 May 2008.

also note the attendance at the 10th settlement celebrations of the new member for King, Ms Paula Luethen, the member for Wright, Blair Boyer, and federal members of parliament, Tony Zappia and Nick Champion.

Another feature of the conference and the settlement celebrations was the presentation to all guests of the booklet called A Decade in Retrospection, a special publication edited by Indra Adhikari. That publication celebrates the 10 years of the resettlement and the history of the development of the Bhutanese community in Australia. I will certainly be making the parliamentary library aware of the existence of that publication.