A cultural performance from dancers and musicians from the Sri Lanka Dance Foundation enthralled guests at the annual Christmas dinner of the Consular Corps of Queensland.
The dinner, at City Hall, Brisbane, was hosted by the Dean of the Corps, Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Queensland Anton Swan, and the dance troupe was organised by the Sri Lanka Society.
Among the guests were Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner. The Queensland Youth Orchestra also was in attendance.
Mr Swan, whose tenure as Dean ends in March this year, said the consuls and consul-generals representing 40 countries, and other invited guests enjoyed the night of togetherness at the culmination of a year of great uncertainty.
In his keynote address, Mr Swan said: “Considering the turbulence and uncertainty of the past 10 months, we are fortunate to be able to gather in fellowship and share our experiences together.
“No doubt each of you has been asked to handle the demands of your office in different ways, but the common objective has been to support our governments, both in your homelands and in this wonderful state of Queensland, to assure the communities that their health and wellbeing were being looked after during this world-wide crisis.
“I also must make special mention of how the Consular Corps aided members who sought assistance with their nationals’ repatriation logistics.
“Now, when we look across how this pandemic was handled in Queensland, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to our leaders and the thousands of essential service personnel who have kept us safe. The doctors, nurses and ancillary health staff may not have made banner headlines but they certainly have created an awareness of how important medicine and social awareness are in our lives.
“There is wide agreement that we are in an era where science, engineering and technology exert greater influence on daily life than at any time in human history. Globally, we have been rarely tested like this before and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure we are ready to continue to play our part for the betterment of all levels of society.”
Mr Swan said the Queensland Consular Corps had a proud history. The first appointment of a Consul took place on November 2, 1855, when Georg Appel was appointed Vice-Consul for the Free Hanseatic Republic of Hamburg at South Brisbane in the Colony of New South Wales. Since then, the Consuls in Brisbane had experienced a Federation in Australia, two world wars and various economic and natural challenges. During all this time, they served the citizens of their countries and acted as important links with the communities they had been chosen to represent.
“One shining feature has been the close co-operation among all consuls. We have been united in one common objective – service to our fellow citizens,” Mr Swan said.
Text: Lawrence Heyn
Photos: Wimal Kannangara