It was hard not to take a look at the scenes coming out of Victoria at the weekend and shake your head.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the protests in St Kilda as “ugly racial protests” and that’s exactly what they were.
This was not a “law and order” protest. It was racism, pure and simple.
One thing we can be immensely proud of in our city and the Illawarra more broadly is our acceptance and appreciation of other cultures.
It comes as little surprise really when you understand the history of our region and take into account that immigration helped build our city of steel.
Yet you don’t have to look too far to see the lengths we go to welcome other cultures.
A case in point is our wonderful Nan Tien Temple, which we celebrate with such pride and passion.
The “paradise of the south”, as it translates, is the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, all amazingly constructed in a Wollongong suburb surrounded by industry.
While Wollongong’s tagline is the “City of Innovation” it could easily have been the “City of Diversity”.
Indeed, as the region was built by migrants, we continue to welcome newcomers and help establish them in their new home.
The Wollongong City Council takes an active role in this and should be congratulated for it. Many other organisations play key roles and all work together.
SCARF, the Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families, is an incredible success story within that network.
The volunteer community organisation plays a vital role in helping to settle refugees into our community with services such as family mentoring, learning to drive programs, tutoring and youth programs just to name a few.
In recent years we’ve vastly increased the numbers of migrants settling here from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Burma and the Congo.
We should treat the events like those at the weekend and those who support them – senators especially – with the contempt they deserve.