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Victoria’s Government House hosts an official reception to mark the occasion of Australia Day
A wide cross section of the community was invited to the 2016 Australia Day reception held recently at the Victorian Governor’s residence, Government House. This annual event marked the beginning of Australia’s national day of celebrations and was hosted by Linda Dessau AM, the first female Governor of Victoria.
The Indian community was well represented as Australia Day Ambassadors mingled with VCE top achievers, members of the Australian defence forces, the judiciary, the clergy and local politicians.
The formal part of the evening was brief as the hostess welcomed everyone to the historic Government House before a short address in which she reflected on the significance of Australia Day in modern times.
“It is particularly important at this time to recognise and celebrate that Australia is home to the oldest, continuous culture in the world, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to ongoing reconciliation,” said Governor Dessau, as she paid respect to elders past and present.
According to the Governor, Australia Day provides us the precious opportunity to gather together to have some fun with each other whilst pausing to appreciate our democracy and reflecting positively on what it means to be Australian.
“We gather and reflect in different ways on what is dear to us all. In some respects the answers will be personal and individual, in other ways there will be much common ground. There is much in Victoria that we can be proud of, including our democratic systems and our diverse community,” said Governor Dessau, as she thanked everyone for their contribution in making Victoria an innovative and successful state.
The Minister for Education, James Merlino, serving as the State member for Monbulk, represented the Premier Daniel Andrews. He called Australia a nation of freedom, fairness, peace, prosperity, democracy, diversity and achievements.
Mr Merlino urged people not to forget that we are a country of migrants.
“On Australia Day, I think of all the newly pledged citizens and remember how my dad arrived from the small island of Celia in 1961 and found this country – big enough in space and spirit – to help him start a new life. We are happy to live here, but in Victoria we did not dig our prosperity from the ground, we built this society with our hands and our minds. Australia always was, and always will be, a country of migrants,” Mr Merlino said.
In his address, Mr Merlino also acknowledged the first owners of this land.
“We cannot mark this day without acknowledging our nation’s first people,” said the Minister. “Australia did not come into being in 1788. This great southern land was home, and is still home, to the oldest, continuous culture in human history. In this time, and all times, we must pay our respect to the Indigenous culture and its people, their legacy and their continuous contribution to our multicultural nation,” he said.
Once the formalities concluded, Governor Dessau and the official party took time to meet guests and take photos. Parts of Government House were also made accessible to the public for inspection.
It turned out to be a relaxed and informal evening as guests socialised over canapés and drinks in the beautifully manicured gardens overlooking the vast House. Simple yet stately, the evening was a memorable one for those who attended.