Clarence's 'country hospitality' stands up against hatred

THE Clarence is called home by many, and a new group wants to make sure each individual feels welcomed with "country hospitality".

The importance of ensuring a welcoming, accepting and diverse society has been laid to bear in recent months as discussion of religious and cultural diversity are at the forefront around the country.

The brainchild of Languages Other Than English Together With Us, the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and the Clarence Forum is Inclusive Clarence, a group aimed to support local and state government in ensuring the Valley welcomes all diversity.

"We want Grafton and the Clarence Valley to be known for its country hospitality, welcoming to everyone," Grafton Chamber of Commerce Vice President Phil Belletty said.

"This Valley has always embraced multiculturalism and we have come together as a community to call out extremism, hate speech, racism or bigotry."

Inclusive Clarence have drafted a statement entitled Our Inclusive Clarence and is currently seeking endorsements from prominent community and political leaders.

The signed copies of the statements will be sent to Multicultural NSW, the Premiers Department.

"We are pleased to announce that the Federal MP for Page, Kevin Hogan was the first to endorse this statement and we hope other community leaders will follow his example.

We want to be able to use this symbolic statement as a demonstration to people outside the valley and media outlets that we are committed to social inclusion."

What better way than create an inclusive community then ask those who represent a diverse town.

LOETUS has surveyed Valley residents with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds to better understand what support is needed and where.

LOETUS chair Rathi Ramanathan said a report with recommendations would be put before Council.

"Multicultural NSW have been very supportive of the role of Inclusive Clarence and together we look forward to working with the Council and the community to implement the recommendations in the report," she said.

"We expect to have a seat at the table for the proposed Social Inclusion Advisory Committee to steer and guide interaction and progress support migration into the Valley, including the necessary support services."

IC proposed establishing a social inclusion advisory committee in early May and was informed that it is to be tabled at the upcoming Council meeting.

State member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, Councillors Greg Clancy and Peter Ellem, Daily Examiner editor Bill North and several other community leaders have signed the Our Inclusive Clarence statement.

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