On Sunday March 21 the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC elevated the status of the Welcome Wall at the Australian National Maritime Museum to become Australia’s National Monument to Migration.
The monument commemorates those who have migrated from countries around the world to make Australia their new home. The name of any person who was born overseas and settled into Australia may be registered on the monument.
In a recorded address His Excellency stated,
‘A little over 22 years ago, former Governor-General Sir William Deane presided over the official opening of the Welcome Wall in front of you today. During his speech Sir William described Australia as follows: ‘Our nation is the sum of us all – all those who came here, all those who were born here, and all those who are or have been Australian.’ Sir William said the great lesson of the Welcome Wall is that ‘our diversity has led to our unity.’ I agree with him.
‘That lesson is as true today as it was more than two decades ago. That lesson has endured. It is fitting, therefore, that in Harmony Week – a week in which we celebrate our diversity – that the status of the Welcome Wall be elevated to ‘Australia’s National Monument to Migration’.
‘Let me take my reflections on Sir William’s words further, especially his statement that ‘Our diversity has led to our unity’. In my view, there is a key link between ‘diversity’ and ‘unity’ that underlies our success as a multicultural nation. It is ‘learning’.
‘It is through learning that we become better informed and better understand people’s cultures and our differences.
‘Learning’ – is written all over Australia’s National Monument to Migration. It resides in the stories of the 846 names being added to this Monument today – indeed in the stories of all migrant Australians. Stories that are integral to the Australian success story. They will be read, they will be digested and they will become topics of conversations – informed discussions…In sharing our migration stories, you have helped create an important national resource for generations to come…This resource will make for a more inclusive, respectful, harmonious and stronger Australia – something we should all aspire to.’
The National Monument to Migration is situated on the northern promenade of the museum facing Pyrmont Bay and is historically near a place where many migrants arrived in Sydney.
The wall features over 30,000 names and behind each name is a story. There are stories that are dramatic, stories that are tragic alongside stories that just tell of a desire for a new start. Each name signifies one main emotion – that of hope.
On Harmony Day the museum unveiled 846 new names on the wall. Kevin Sumption, Director and CEO of the museum said, ‘The Welcome Wall honours the migrants who have helped shape our nation and, collectively, their stories speak to who we are as a nation. It is a celebration of multicultural Australia. We are so pleased that the wall has been recognised and elevated to a National Monument here in Pyrmont Bay, so close to the site of many arrivals to this country.
‘We are so grateful to our donors to the Migration Heritage Fund which supports our migration activities. It is a beautiful way to mark and honour those really hard decisions to start a new life in Australia.’
Donors are invited to contribute a brief story about the person being honoured and a brief biographical note is published on the museum website. The museum is amassing a selection of stories from these names; stories that, in turn, tell the story of modern Australia.
The museum is now accepting names for the next panels on the monument and has announced a new fundraising initiative to support the honouring of new arrivals and refugees
For further information go to www.sea.museum/discover/welcome-wall
For a copy of the Governor General’s address go to: Governor General address
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