I rise today to acknowledge the 15th anniversary of Croatia’s showcase of culture through its annual event, Festa, the Croatian food and Wine Festival.
Last Saturday, 24th November 2018, I was pleased to attend the 15th anniversary of Festa. 15 years of showcasing a variety of aspects from both the traditional and modern Croatia. A festival held by the South Australian Croatian community highlighting Croatia’s energetic culture. A culture which has made a large contribution to our South Australian way of life.
The Festa committee has been able to grow the scale of the event, from a small ‘picnic’ style event, to one which attracts thousands of patrons not only from South Australia, but from across Australia. It is now widely regarded as the biggest and best Croatian Festival in Australia.
I commend the hardworking volunteers led by the Croatian Sports Centre’s President Juli Cirjak, Festival Director Gordana Smoljan and the Festa committee members, for their greatly appreciated efforts. Festa’s generous volunteers are the reason the festival has been so successful and continued to prosper. These volunteers form the fabric of our immigration story and put their heart into the event year in and year out.
Mr Joseph Petric, the Croatian consul, based in Melbourne, attended for the first time, and we certainly welcomed him, and we were thrilled to have Her Excellency Ambassador Betty Pavelich Sirois, the new Croatian ambassador to Australia, from Canberra, who made a passionate and emotional speech, one which I was very proud of. I was pleased to be joined by the Hon. Jing Lee, who spoke on behalf of the Premier and spoke very well, the Hon. David Ridgway and Susan Close MP, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The festival is special as these volunteers have followed in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents. They share with us their centuries-old family traditions and ensure that these traditions carry on in the generations to come.
From donating hours of their time each year in setting up and running the event, to keeping family traditions alive, the Croatian culture of food, wine, music and entertainment, brought over to Australia, has flourished.
In South Australia, there are over 3,500 Croatian-born residents and many more of Croatian descent, and in total, it's a growing community of approximately 10,000 people. The South Australian Government welcomes every opportunity to emphasise the important relationship between immigration, multiculturalism and our cultural and economic wealth as a nation. The Croatian community has made a valuable and deeply appreciated contribution to the richness of Australian society and that of our State.
Croats in South Australia, keen to maintain the language and culture of Croatia for future generations, have established several organisations, such as the Croatian Ethnic School (1966), the Croatian Radio Hour (1976) the Croatian Soccer Club (1952), the Croatian Catholic Centre (1956) and the Croatian Club (1961).
commend the Croatian community for their passionate and active presence in regional South Australia. These clubs are not only located in Adelaide, but in the towns of Port Lincoln, Whyalla, the Riverland, Coober Pedy and Mount Gambier. Croatian clubs exist to further strengthen artistic, sporting and cultural ties between our two countries.
Several initiatives in recent years continue to demonstrate the commitment of Croats, both past and present, to the betterment of their community in South Australia. Examples include the development of a modern facility shared with Ukrainian and Belarusian peoples for aged care; the raising of funds for medical equipment in Croatia through the Croatian Medical Aid Foundation; the formation of the Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce SA to foster bilateral trade between Croatia and South Australia and the founding of the Australian Croatian Genealogical and Historical Society.
The longstanding bilateral relationship between Australia and Croatia in the last 26 years is not only based on our shared world view, but very much on the personal connections between our people.
There are also other areas of engagement including tourism, where an increasing number of Australians are discovering the beauty and delights of this fascinating country. I understand, about 150,000 Australian tourists visited Croatia last year. I believe that we, working together through these business and community circles will continue to grow as valued partners and trusted friends, contributing to significant and enduring relations into the future.
I congratulate the Festa committee for this year’s 15th anniversary festivities and I look forward to returning next year. Zivjeli!