Recently I attended a Congo Week event in my electorate hosted by the Goulburn Valley Congolese Association.
The purpose of Congo Week is to raise global consciousness about the Democratic Republic of Congo’s past two decades of war and political instability.
Breaking the Silence Congo Week started in New York in 2008 and has since galvanised the participation of people in more than 70 countries and 500 university campuses and communities. As many in this place would know, Shepparton district is immensely proud of its multicultural population. I promised those at the event that I would talk about the Congo’s plight in Parliament and today I am fulfilling that promise. Since the first 10 Congolese families arrived in Shepparton more than 10 years ago, the local Congolese population has grown to more than 150 people and they have worked hard to make a new home for themselves in my electorate. Unsurprisingly many still have large networks of family and friends living in the Congo. While they are now physically removed from the conflict and at a distance, they nevertheless suffer a sense of sadness and loss. But among the many people attending this event there was also joy in spending an evening celebrating Congolese culture through music, cultural displays and of course food.