It is an honour to be invited here today and to be with you as we open the new home of the NSW School of Languages.
Learning a language is one of the most rewarding challenges a student can take on – it broadens our understanding of the world; it activates and develops regions of our brains that are vital to creativity and logic; most importantly of all, it helps connect us to the people in our community.
I warmly welcome all the students that will study here at the NSW School of Languages to the Inner West of Sydney.
The Inner West is the birthplace of modern multiculturalism in Australia and it is the perfect home for the School of Languages.
Throughout Sydney’s history, people from all over the world have chosen to make the Inner West their home, bringing their cultures, their traditions, and their languages with them.
According to census data, almost a third of all people in the Inner West speak a language other than English, including Mandarin, Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Portuguese and Arabic.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to speak about another event I was able to attend last week at my son’s preschool in Marrickville.
The D’harawal Culture & Language Program is all about embedding the teaching of indigenous languages from the earliest age.
The program is a powerful reminder of the power of language and of how hard we have to work to keep language alive.
That’s important because the strength of our multicultural society rests more than anything on the power of language;
It is language that allows us to keep traditions and cultures alive, embedded in the stories we tell, the art we create, even the food we prepare.
More than this, though, language allows us to bridge the gaps that may exist between communities; with language we may not only preserve our culture, but share it.
It is this power of language that makes me so grateful for the quality language education that the NSW School of Languages provides to all students across the state.
I thank you for the opportunity to be here today and I wish you all the best with your studies here.