Under clear spring skies United Nations Day was celebrated, on the 23rd at Albert Hall in Canberra. Building on the message of “community” UNIC Canberra, supported by the Australian Capital Territory Government, designed the event as a celebration focusing on partnerships and youth.
The event started with a welcome to country by Matilda House, Ngambri-Ngunnal Elder, who spoke about the importance of the UN to all. The Master of Ceremonies, Ellen Hansen from the office of UNHCR Canberra then introduced, Assistant Secretary Jenny Bloomfied from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who spoke about Australia’s recent role on the Security Council and Australia’s commitment to the United Nations.
Mr Nic Manikis, Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, ACT Government then spoke about UNIC Canberra’s involvement within the Canberra community, citing its educational outreach as a key component of the relationship between the ACT Government and the UN.
The MC, Ellen Hansen then introduced Mayor of Cowra, Mr Bill West, who spoke about the role of special guest that UNIC Canberra undertook at the week long Cowra Festival of Understanding. This event he said was most successful with many UN guest speakers addressing the various community groups in Cowra. He also noted how important it was to the Cowra community that the official Australian launch of the International Year of Family Farming also took place within the week. He stated how proud he was that the partnership was continuing today, on the UN’s birthday, and he was looking forward to seeing the students from Cowra performing later on in the programme.
As such his speech was followed by a musical and choir performance by the student Cowra Choir and Dance troupe which delighted all.
Moving towards the more formal aspect of the day, the Director of UNIC Canberra, Mr Christopher Woodthorpe read the UN day message of the UN Secretary – General Ban ki Moon which was followed by an official flag raising ceremony outside Albert Hall by the Australian Federal Police former Peacekeepers and AFP bagpiper.
At the end of the formal event, students from Gungahlin College cooking school offered food and refreshments that they had made especially for the day.
The United Nations Day in Canberra was one of celebrating community, both local and rural, personified by strong partnerships between government and the United Nations and creatively portrayed by the exuberance and talent of youth.
Those who could not attend the ceremony were treated to the sight of the UN flags flying across both bridges of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, highlighting the day and involving the larger Canberra community in the celebrations.
Photo: Students from St Raphael’s school Cowra celebrating the day.