Lord Mayor Clover Moore believes in a harmonious, multicultural Sydney. She wants you to believe in it too, regardless of how many YouTube videos surface from the annals of public transport that imply otherwise.
Clover also sees value (dollars and diversity) in the city’s 50,000 plus International Students. In her words, “our community of international students improves the city’s prosperity and livability”. She wants you to see it too.
Every year Clover holds a reception at Town Hall for 1000 of the city’s newest International Students, this year’s was on March 18th. Some attendees are here for a semester; some are here for their whole degree. They sign in, get nametags, get some free tote bags full of free flyers and mill; the event is meant to be a warm welcome to Sydney and a chance to make new friends. They are also encouraged regularly and warmly to spread word of the event on social media,(#myfuturesydney); “tell your friends, tell your families!”.
Students had the chance to have their photos taken with the NSW police’s mascot, a penguin apparently, and get a certificate commemorating their attendance at the event. They also learned a little bit about their host country’s tumultuous, colonial past; ABC News presenter Jeremy Fernandez opened his MC duties with a thoughtful explanation of Australia’s sordid settlement and the plight of Indigenous Australians before then explaining the purpose of a welcome to country and the ritual cleansing smoking ceremony that were to follow. Then we all ate meat pies, sausage roles and lamingtons.
Moore talks of the 200 nationalities that live here- no less than half of Sydneysiders are born overseas! She talks of the discounts they can have at aquatic centres, the access to youth centres, basketball courts and parks they can enjoy for free. She doesn’t mention the over priced accommodation that has been built with their wallets in mind or the fact that they don’t qualify for concession cards. She does, however, invite the students to get in a photo with her, a photo that Fernandez assures the crowd is one of the most shared photos for the Mayor every year.