MALAYSIA'S Minister for National Unity and Social Wellbeing says he hopes for more collaborations between his country and Ballarat in coming years after he paid the city a visit on Monday.
Minister in Prime Minister's department Waytha Moorthy Ponnusamy stopped off in Ballarat as part of his week long journey through Australia where he is meeting with leaders around the country about embracing cultural differences.
"I've been to Sydney and Melbourne during this past week to see how Australian's celebrate multiculturalism and how we can embrace that," he said.
"The government has many initiatives of positive and active initiatives to get people to understand each others cultures and a way of life.
"We are here today to see how things are done here in Ballarat."
The Minister had an opportunity to learn about a very much Australian custom as a guest at the AFL Grand Final at the weekend.
He said seeing many cultures and generations of supporters coming together provided a window of how unity can be achieved.
"We have soccer, but it's not a religious thing in Malaysia," he said.
"It was fantastic to see, I was amazed to see the commitment that people have to a game, I've never seen such enthusiasm for a game."
Professor of Rural Health and Deputy Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria Sundram Sivamalai said it was important to visit regions as well as major cities to see how different ideas and initiatives were working.
"Ballarat is taking a leading role in terms of promoting harmony and community relations, we have a very diverse community here in Ballarat and the government encourages migrants to settle in the region," Dr Sivamalai said.
"As such, Ballarat is leading the way and he Minister will be here to talk about collaborations and initiatives that Ballarat has taken.
"Hopefully this dialogue will be ongoing and we will have future deliberations on it, as well as future visits.
"There are many ex-Malaysians who are living in Ballarat and they are doing a lot of work within institutions right across the city."
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