By Robert Waller
If his face is not recognised, his name is Bob Waller. He and his wife Terri have resided in the local shire for almost 40 years. With his wife’s support, he has engaged in community activities for most of these years. He has been Salvation Army Chairman of the Cherrybrook District and the Dural Zone for the Red Shield Appeal, a Management Committee Member with the Cherrybrook Chinese Association, he is the Immediate Past President of Hills District Tennis Association, Past President of his local Retirement Village. He is the Founding President of the locally established multi-cultural association, the Australian Community Inspired Association Inc. Bob is presently planning a multi-cultural Tennis event with the aim of community bridge building and fundraising support for the Hills Relay for Life in May this year.
We invited Bob to share his thoughts on Harmony Week, specifically what Harmony Week means to him. Bob says, “It is a special time dedicated to celebrating the sharing of cultural differences and removing the risk of racial discrimination; however, for many, including my wife and I, this is an everyday event. In Australia and, in particular, within our local shires, we are privileged to have the opportunity to share and celebrate our cultural differences in an environment of peace and joyful harmony. The respect and laughs we have shared with my friends of different heritage have been nothing short of ‘the icing on the cake’ from the list of rewards gained. As a guest to numerous Citizenship Awards, I witnessed the excitement and delight of many hundreds of people so proudly taking the oath. Their smiling faces were a sight to behold”.
Bob continues, “The primary obstacle is mainstream media who should be called to account for their culture of persecution, irresponsible disrespect and in some cases hate towards people of different beliefs. This behaviour causes a disconnect between people and communities, undermines the unifying effort of many fine Australians and overseas visitors within our community, can be racially discriminatory and shows a level of disrespect previously foreign to our beautiful country”.
Bob observes that social cohesion and racial harmony are features of our schoolyards, classrooms, sporting fields, and tennis courts and visible in shopping centres after school hours. He encourages our new friends to strengthen their community connections by engaging in locally hosted community events. Engagement in these activities increases friendship opportunities, respect between neighbours and helps make our local Shires a better place to live.