Constituency Statement: North Sydney Electorate’s Chinese Community

  • October 7, 2020

Early October is a very special and important time for Australians who have Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese heritage because, in 2020, 1 October was the time when those communities celebrated what is one of the largest festivals in many Asian societies—the Moon Festival, sometimes also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, reflecting its Northern Hemisphere origins. In fact, the Moon Festival is the second-largest celebration on the Chinese calendar, and for Koreans and Vietnamese as well, after the Lunar New Year. It’s an important festival which has its origins in ancient Chinese culture, in fact some 3,000 years ago, when moon worship, particularly by the emperors, was a common feature of society. Even today, 3,000 years on, it is celebrated as an opportunity to reflect on the full moon that happens at that time of year, but also things like the harvest—called the harvest moon, as it is—when communities came together to mark the end of the harvest season.

It is a time when families come together. There are some great rituals associated with this festival, including lantern displays and, of course, the ubiquitous mooncake, which is a popular feature of the Mid-Autumn Festival, as I’ve experienced myself over the last couple of weeks. Of course 2020 has been different, as it has been for so many of these events. Many of the public celebrations that we’d normally find in my electorate have been impossible because of COVID restrictions. But nonetheless, I know that families have come together as they traditionally do, bonded and shared the importance of this festival for their communities. I congratulate all of those in my own local community that have been able to honour this tradition.

I am proud to represent an electorate which has one of the largest Australian Chinese communities in Australia. But I also want to reflect on the fact that the last six months has been particularly difficult for them, as for all of Australia. In fact, it’s fair to say that the Australian Chinese community probably experienced the impact of COVID first because of its first wave in mainland China and the impact that that had on families and friends of the Australian Chinese community. I also want to reflect on the fact that it was probably the Chinese Australian community that were the first to react in a positive and responsible way to the challenges that COVID was presenting to our community. I saw this in my own electorate, where I saw so many businesses responsibly adapting to making sure that their customers were safe.

This has led me to form what I hope will be an enduring feature of my work, namely, the North Sydney Chinese Community Forum. This is bringing together Chinese community leaders across my electorate. We’ve so far met three times, via the ubiquitous Zoom tool most recently, and I’m really thrilled that Minister Tudge was able to attend the last of those meetings. I will continue to support my local Chinese community, which is such a vibrant and important part of my own local community.